PRESS STATEMENT: In response to Covid-19 and the climate emergency: organizations around the world call for a Care Income Now!

For more information contact: Global Women’s Strike (India, Ireland, Peru, Thailand, UK, US)
+44 20 7482 2496 or +1 215 848 1120

The Global Women’s Strike and Women of Colour GWS, which have campaigned for financial recognition for unwaged caring work for decades, have joined with the Green New Deal for Europe to urge governments everywhere to provide a Care Income, starting now. This would prioritize and support the work of all those, of every gender, who care for people, for the urban and rural environment, and for the natural world. (This Care Income is quite different from the universal basic income which prioritizes neither caring work nor the climate emergency.)  

So far organizations and individuals from 33 countries, South and North – women’s, human rights defenders, environmentalists, domestic workers, subsistence farmers, disabled people, breastfeeding advocates, anti-rape, anti-deportation, sex workers… have endorsed the Open Letter to Governments.

The drastic measures in response to Covid-19 show that governments can take swift action and find money to deal with “emergencies” – if they want to. But, while they propose to replace some lost wages, there is no relief package for caregivers, only more work.

Everyone can now see how dependent we all are on caring work – in the home, the hospital, the community. Yet this invaluable work, typically performed by women, is mostly unwaged. When waged, it is usually the lowest paid, reflecting the low status governments and corporations place on those who do it, and on the lives and needs of most of those we care for.

Almost 70% of healthcare workers around the world are women.[1] They and other “key workers” risk their own lives to keep people alive in hospitals and care homes, and to see that everyone has access to food and other essentials, in rural and urban areas. For example, of three million people in “high exposure” jobs in the UK– 77% are women and one third (98% women) earn “poverty wages”. A large percentage are on temporary or zero-hours contracts, and are disproportionately people of colour and/or immigrant, often denied services and resources available to others.[2]

But why did it take Covid-19 to get governments to act when we already face a climate emergency as well as growing poverty and inequality, rape and domestic violence, war and displacement on an epidemic scale? If this pandemic teaches anything it is that we cannot go back to economic and social priorities that destroy people and the planet we depend on. The lockdowns are reducing air pollution (which kills an estimated seven million people annually worldwide)[3] and making way for the natural world. We must build on that, not return to the mindless growth that pays us to do work that pollutes and threatens our very survival.

We urge you to report and circulate this vital demand.


[1] https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/311314/WHO-HIS-HWF-Gender-WP1-2019.1-eng.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

[2] Women’s Budget Group on figures supplied by Autonomy.

[3] WHO: https://www.who.int/health-topics/air-pollution#tab=tab_1

Ham & High: Kentish Town women’s group call for ‘carer’s income’ amid coronavirus pandemic

PUBLISHED: 18:15 07 April 2020 Sam Volpe

Shoda Rackal and Kay Chapman ahead of the Crossroads Women’s Centre’s International Women’s Day celebration. Picture: Crossroads Women’s Centre

The Kentish Town-based Global Women’s Strike (GWS) group have written an open letter to the UK government – and others around the world – calling for a “care income” to be instituted to protect the, often predominantly female, care workforce amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In collaboration with the Green New Deal for Europe group, GWS have called for “the indispensable work of life and survival” to be recognised.

Kay Chapman and SHoda Rackal from GWS, which runs out of the Crossroads Womens’ Centre, said: “As mothers, we know that every day and in every emergency women are called on to protect and care for everyone.

“With this pandemic all can see how dependent the whole population is on caring work – at home, in care homes, in the NHS. Despite billions promised to keep the economy functioning, there is no relief package for mothers and other carers, only more work.”

See the full open letter here.

https://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/health/global-women-s-strike-group-call-for-carer-s-income-amid-coronavirus-pandemic-1-6597946

Endorsers to the Open Letter to Governments – A Care Income Now!

Organizational endorsers:

#MeToo Survivors, US

Alexandria House, US

All African Women’s Group, UK

Alliance for Global Justice, US

ALTSEAN-Burma

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, Thailand

Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), Malaysia

Auckland Feminist Action, NZ

Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, UK

BirthStrike, UK

Black Women’s Rape Action Project, UK

Borstvoeding vzw, Belgium

Community WHRD Collective, Thailand

Compassion in Care The Whistler, UK

Empower Foundation, Thailand

English Collective of Prostitutes, UK

Every Mother is a Working Mother Network, US

Experimental Experience CIC, UK

Feminist Legal Clinic Inc., Australia

Fuel Poverty Action, UK

GAIA Environmental Action and Intervention group, Portugal

Global Justice Rebellion, UK

Global Women Against Deportations, UK

Globallyaware, Australia

Hampshire County Federation of Women’s Institutes, UK

Help & Shelter, Guyana

Howie Hawkins for Pres (Green Party), US

Int’l Black Women for Wages for Housework, UK/US

International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe, Belgium

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, UK/US

International Women’s Strike/LA, US

Justice for Peace Foundation, Thailand

Lactation Consultants of Great Britain

Legal Action for Women, UK

Leicester MAMMAs, UK

Lewisham Housing Forum, UK

MAP Foundation, Thailand

Migrant Sex Workers Project, Canada

Migrant Women’s Network, Thailand

Milk of Human Kindness, UK

Naked Punch Review, Pakistan

National Ugly Mugs, UK

National Welfare Rights Union, US

Old Women’s Project, US

Parents for Inclusion Newham, UK

Payday men’s network, UK/US

Planning for Sustainable Communities, US

PM Press, US

Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility, UK

Public Carers, UK

Queer Strike, UK/US

Reclaim the Power, UK

Red Thread, Guyana

Refugee and Asylum Seeker Participatory Action Research (RAPAR), UK

Release, UK

Research & Degrowth Barcelona, Spain

Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital, UK

Scottish Kinship Care Alliance, Scotland

Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM), UK

Sex Worker’s Opera, UK

She’s Got the Power, Russia

Sibling Arts CIC, UK

Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, UK

Sisters Health & Wellness Collective

Somood women, Palestine

Success Capital Organisation, Botswana

Support Not Separation, UK

Sussex Refugee and Migrants Self-Support Group, UK

US PROStitutes Collective, US

WAYVE Foundation, India

We All Rise, US

Welfare Warriors, US

WinVisible – women with visible and invisible disabilities, UK/US

Women Against Rape, UK

Women’s League of Burma, Myanmar

World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative Steering Group, UK

Programme for today’s Care Income Now! webinar

Please join us for a webinar exploring the implications of a campaign for a Care Income, North and South,to stop climate change, promote caring work for people and planet, and refuse work that is destructive to the environment and to the worker.

Friday April 3, 11am-1pm US Eastern (4pm UK, 10pm Thailand)
Pre-registration necessary Register here
Be an early signer of Open Letter to Governments – Care Income Now!

Chaired by Margaret Prescod, Women of Color/Global Women’s Strike (GWS)
Selma James, GWS, London
Stefania Barca & Giacomo D’Alisa, Green New Deal for Europe, Italy/Portugal
Sam Weinstein, trade unionist, Payday men’s network, UK/US
Solveig Francis,breastfeeding advocate, London
Pranom Somwong, Protection International, Thailand

Followed by questions and discussion: what payments and support the State has been forced to give in response to the COVID-19 crisis in different countries, and how the demand for a Care Income has entered campaigning to change the world and save it.


This webinar follows on from the Women in Dialogue March 20 webinar From Coronavirus and Beyond: Valuing Caregiving — The Unwaged Work that Protects People and the Environment where 200 people from 14 countries participated. Global Women’s Strikeand Women of Color/GWS
 
careincomenow@globalwomenstrike.net

CARE INCOME NOW! Sign the letter & join webinar

Dear Friends,

We write to ask that your organization endorse the Open letter to governments – A Care Income Now!  If you are not a member of an organization or are unable to confirm your organization’s endorsement, of course personal endorsements are also welcome.  The Open Letter is jointly issued by the Global Women’s Strike, Women of Colour GWS and the Green New Deal for Europe (GNDE).

The call for a Care Income (#CareIncomeNow), which is a key part of the GNDE, was given a boost at a March 20 webinar From Coronavirus and Beyond: Valuing Caregiving — The Unwaged Work that Protects People and the Environment in which over 200 people from 14 countries participated.  The webinar was originally scheduled as a workshop for the UN Commission on the Status of Women commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Women’s Conference, but this was canceled because of the virus.

The next online webinar will be on the Care Income Now! global campaign and is scheduled for Friday April 3 at 8am PDT (Pacific Daylight Time), 4pm (UK time), 10pm (Thailand time).  It will include discussion on the implications of a Care Income for the environment, unwaged and waged work, and how we can use it in our campaigning to change the world and save it.  Register here. The Open Letter is being translated into a number of languages which will shortly be available on our website.

Open letter to governments – a Care Income Now!

Bahasa, Burmese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Romanian, Spanish, Thai, Urdu so far.

Every day and in every emergency, unwaged or low waged caregivers, urban and rural, mostly women, often immigrant women, struggle to protect and care for people of every age and condition. But this work is kept invisible and therefore there is never a relief package from governments for caregivers, only more work, especially with the advent of Covid-19.

In 1980, the ILO estimated that women did 2/3 of the world’s work for 5% of its income. Today women and girls do more than three-quarters of all unpaid care work – a total of 12.5 billion hours a day.

The coronavirus pandemic came on top of the climate pandemic, the poverty pandemic, the war pandemic and the rape and domestic violence pandemics which have hit single mother families, ill, disabled and older people hardest. It is exposing weaknesses in our ability to resist and survive physically and financially – from immune systems already compromised by poverty, discrimination, pollution, war, occupation, displacement and other violence to inadequate healthcare and inadequate incomes, especially in the Global South, in communities of colour in the North, and among refugees everywhere.

In response to the virus, country after country has been shut down – from workplaces to schools and transport – and proposals to replace lost wages are being debated. These drastic measures show that governments can take swift action and find money to deal with “emergencies” – if they want to. At this critical moment, we must insist collectively on what we need. We fear that governments may use increased emergency powers to transfer wealth from taxpayers to corporations, and even impose further controls, surveillance and restrictions on our movements and our lives well after this pandemic is over.

The market values unwaged work at $10.8 trillion but never suggests that women should get any of it. Instead we are advised to get an education and a better paid job. We of course have a right to that. But it does not deal with the indispensable work of life and survival – from breastfeeding to elder care. Only increasing the status, power and income of caregivers can do that.

In the 80s, the Women Count – Count Women’s Work petition issued by the International Wages for Housework Campaign gave voice of a hidden mass movement for recognition of this work. It was signed by 1,200 organizations representing millions of women worldwide, resulting in the 1995 UN decision that governments measure and value unwaged work in national accounts.

The Green New Deal for Europe takes this forward. It looks at what work is needed for social and environmental wellbeing, and what work is not, and proposes a Care Income as a key part of its programme for climate justice. At last protecting people and protecting the Earth can be equated and prioritized over the uncaring market – a major step in transforming the world and saving it. We need this everywhere.

We demand a CARE INCOME across the planet for all those, of every gender, who care for people, the urban and rural environment, and the natural world. 

Global Women’s Strike (GWS) and Women of Colour GWS  careincomenow@globalwomenstrike.net Green New Deal for Europe

ENDORSE HERE.

There is more than one pandemic. In response to the health, climate, poverty and war crises, we call for a Care Income Now!

The coronavirus pandemic comes on top of the climate pandemic, the poverty pandemic and the war pandemics which have hit single mother families, ill, disabled and older people hardest. It is exposing weaknesses in our ability to resist and survive physically and financially – from immune systems already compromised by poverty, pollution, war, occupation and displacement to inadequate healthcare and inadequate incomes, especially in the Global South, in communities of colour in the North, and among refugees everywhere.

Every day and in every emergency, unwaged or low waged caregivers, mostly women, often immigrant women, struggle to protect and care for people of every age and condition. But this work is kept invisible and therefore there is never a relief package from governments for caregivers, only more work.

In 1980, the ILO estimated that women did 2/3 of the world’s work for 5% of its income. Over 1,500 organizations representing millions of women worldwide signed the petition Women Count – Count Women’s Work as the only way to make our contribution visible. In 1995 we won the UN commitment that governments would measure and value unwaged work in national accounts. But still today women and girls do more than three-quarters of all unpaid care work with a total of 12.5bn hours a day.

The market values this at $10.8tn but never suggests that women should get any of it.

Instead they tell us to get an education and a better paid job. We all have a right to that. But it would not deal with the indispensable work of life and survival – from breastfeeding to elder care. Only increasing the status, power and income of caregivers can do that.

In response to the virus, country after country is being shut down – from workplaces to schools and transport – and proposals to replace lost wages are being debated. These drastic measures show that governments can take swift action and find money to deal with “emergencies” – if they want to. Now is the time to spell out what we collectively need, and insist on it. If we don’t, governments may use their increased powers to transfer wealth from taxpayers to corporations, and impose further controls, surveillance and restrictions on our movements and our lives well after this pandemic is over.

What we have a need and right to is a CARE INCOME for all those, of every gender, who “care for people, the urban environment, and the natural world”. The Green New Deal for Europe, to which we have contributed, begins to look at what work we do and why. It proposes a Care Income as a key part of its programme for climate justice. For decades we have been campaigning for a living wage for mothers and other carers, North and South. A Care Income is a welcome development. At last protecting people and protecting Mother Earth can be equated and prioritized over the uncaring market – a major step in transforming the world and saving it.  On 20 March 2020, in response to the health, climate, poverty and war pandemics, in a webinar hosted within the Commission on the Status of Women, women from across the globe call for a Care Income, not only for Europe but for caregivers everywhere.

Event: Webinar From Coronavirus and Beyond Valuing Caregiving — the Unwaged Work that Protects People and the Environment.


Date And Time

Fri, March 20, 2020

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM EDT

Description

Invitation to a Webinar From Coronavirus and Beyond Valuing Caregiving — the Unwaged Work that Protects People and the Environment. The workshop we planned for the 64th UN Commission on the Status of Women has even more urgency now as the global pandemic has exposed how central caregiving is to life and survival, and how much caregivers are relied on for services governments are not providing. But where is the relief package for caregivers? We hope you can join in the webinar and follow us at: #careincomenow

With

Selma James – founder of the Intl Wages for Housework Campaign and coordinator of the Global Women’s Strike from London;
Liz Hilton, Empower (Thailand); Leddy Mozombite, Domestic Workers Federation and Global Women’s Strike (Peru);
Peggy O’Mara, former editor of Mothering Magazine;
Margaret Prescod, Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike and Intl Black Women for Wages for Housework;
Rev Liz Theoharis, joint coordinator Poor People’s Campaign – A National Call for Moral Revival and the Kairos Center;
Chaired by Phoebe Jones, Women in Dialogue. Q&A to follow the presentations.

The Webinar aims to discuss and gather support for ● global implementation of measuring & valuing unwaged caregiving work, including the impact of COVID-19 on caregivers’ work ● accessing resources for survival and beyond – free healthcare, paid maternity leave, benefits, piped water & more for this work which is central to combating poverty & climate change ● campaigning for a Care Income for all caring for people, communities & the environment (Green New Deal for Europe, 2019).

Additional sponsors: Every Mother is a Working Mother Network, Global Women’s Strike, Intl Prostitutes Collective, Empower, Women Against Rape, Queerstrike, WinVisible, Payday men’s network.

For more information womenindialogue@crossroadswomen.net 215-848-1120
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/webinar-valuing-caregiving-the-unwaged-work-that-protects-people-and-the-environment-tickets-100185379166

The Independent: I founded the Wages for Housework campaign in 1972 – and women are still working for free

Forget basic income, those who care for people and the planet deserve to be recognised for the unpaid work they already do

‘Nothing can justify the subordination of one group of producers – the mothers – to the rest’
‘Nothing can justify the subordination of one group of producers – the mothers – to the rest’ ( Getty )

In 1972, a paper I wrote was discussed at the women’s liberation conference in Manchester. It had six demands: the right to work less; the right to have or not to have children (rather than just abortion); equal pay for all; free community-controlled nurseries and childcare (rather than 24/7 state childcare); an end to price rises; and the right to a guaranteed income, for women and men, and to wages for housework. It named my future.

I had the example of single mothers on benefits. They had a lower standard of living than women with male partners but they were freer because the money they had was their own. They were the backbone of the women’s movement but not a dominant voice.

The dominant voice at the conference (which was white and largely middle class) was that wages for housework would institutionalise women in the home and that going out to work was the beginning of liberation – no reference to wages or working conditions. As a young mother, I had waitressed, packed sweets, and wired and soldered TVs on an assembly line. Liberation didn’t look like that!

Wages for housework’s first campaign was to keep family allowance (as child benefit was called) in women’s hands; the government intended to transfer it to men’s pay packets. Signing petitions in front of post offices, women were adamant that “this is the only money I can call my own”. The government retreated and mothers kept their family allowance, their little bit of wages for housework.

But where had this money come from? Eleanor Rathbone, independently wealthy suffragette and MP, had fought for decades to win it. “Nothing can justify the subordination of one group of producers – the mothers – to the rest, and their deprivation of all share of their own in the wealth of a community which depends on them for its very existence.”

Maude Royden, who supported Rathbone, was outraged that giving birth to and raising children was trivialised: “Our object will not be to enable mothers to earn their living, but to ensure that since they have earned it they should get it. The one really fundamental difference between men and women is a difference, it is certainly not an inferiority. For women to try to reduce it to a trifle when it is really so great a thing is an acceptance of masculine standards too dishonouring and too artificial to endure.”

It is extraordinary that those who reproduce the human race are still unsupported and impoverished for this fundamental biological and societal work. Unwaged, in a world dominated by money.

As a result, like it or not, to escape dependence and poverty, women went out to the double day. Mostly not careers, and with austerity, they were even forced to subsidise low wages at food banks.

But women everywhere have fought for money for reproductive work, from maternity leave to paid time off to care for sick relatives.

Selma James refuses entry for male members of the press to the launch in 1975 of the Wages For Housework campaign at Conway Hall, Holborn (Getty)

In the US, a mass movement led by black single mothers (never acknowledged as part of the “women’s movement”) fought for welfare. Spokeswoman Johnnie Tillmon wrote in 1972: “If I were president, I would … go a long way toward liberating every woman. I’d just issue a proclamation that ‘women’s’ work is real work. I’d start paying women a living wage for doing the work we are already doing – childraising and house-keeping.”

We took our campaign to the United Nations, publicising the ILO figure that “women do two-thirds of the world’s work for 5 per cent of its income”. Over 1,500 organisations representing millions of women worldwide signed our petition Women Count – Count Women’s Work. In 1995 we won the UN commitment to measure and value unwaged work in national accounts. (The Commission on the Status of Women was to review implementation this month but was postponed due to the health emergency.)

In January, an Oxfam report said that women and girls do more than three-quarters of all unpaid care work, contributing an estimated £8.28 trillion to the global economy with a total of 12.5 billion hours a day.

Like other reports, it urges us to get an education and thus a better-paid job rather than urging governments to pay us for this mountain of work. Women did not form a movement to eliminate caring but the dependence, isolation, servitude, invisibility and almost universal discrimination that society imposes on the unwaged carer.

The climate emergency clarifies much. The Green New Deal for Europe, of which we are part, proposes a care income for all who do caring work for people and planet – a welcome update on wages for housework.

This is light years ahead of a basic income (which hides the unwaged work women are already doing, leaves the market in charge, and may be used to abolish benefits); and it is more respectful of mutually caring relationships than parking children, the disabled and elderly people with “professionals” in order to “liberate” us, as some women economists urge.

A care income has been embraced by our network, from farmers, human rights defenders and sex workers in Southeast Asia to domestic workers in Peru. At last, protecting people and protecting Mother Earth are equated and prioritised over the uncaring market – a major step in transforming the world and saving it.

Selma James is founder of the Wages for Housework campaign which coordinates the Global Women’s Strike, based at the Crossroads Women’s Centre. WS and other organisations based at Crossroads will celebrate International Women’s Day on Sunday with an Open Day from 12-6pm, 25 Wolsey Mews, NW5 2DX  More info here

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/international-womens-day-wages-housework-care-selma-james-a9385351.html

Camden New Journal: Let’s value the work of human survival

Marking International Women’s Day on Sunday, Selma James argues the long-overdue case for a Care Income

06 March, 2020 — By Selma James

IT’S almost 50 years since I marched, with thousands of others, behind the women’s liberation banner. Groups formed all over London and the UK, discussing what in our lives we wanted to change. Everything! Most wanted to destroy all the hierarchies in society. In fact, we considered for the first time how many hierarchies there were – not only of gender, but of class, race, nationality, age, disability, sexuality… Everything was up for grabs.

By 1972 a few of us had concluded that women’s unwaged caring work was central to the low status of women in every sphere. While we produced and cared for all the workers in the world, and therefore gave birth to the economy, our unwaged caring work kept us poor and dependent on men. We were often asked by husbands then, “What did you do all day?” as we put dinner on the table while tending a crying baby. We worked very hard at what nobody considered work.

In 1972 I called women together for what became the International Wages for Housework Campaign; in 1975 we opened our first women’s centre in Camden – a little squat which ultimately became today’s Crossroads Women’s Centre in Kentish Town.

In 1980 we went to the United Nations Women’s Decade conference in Copenhagen. We learnt that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) had compared the work that women and men did, and concluded that “Women do two-thirds of the world’s work for 5 per cent of its income”.

We said “Women Count – Count Women’s Work” and publicised the ILO figures wherever we could. This was a figure of entitlement.

The women from the Global South agreed absolutely. They worked far harder than we did in London, often growing the food they and their families ate. They knew imperialism had plundered their countries so they didn’t have the technology we did – they had to walk to rivers to bring water home or get their girl children to do it.

In 1985 in Nairobi, we won the UN decision that governments should include the value of “unremunerated work in the home, on the land and in the community” in their financial accounts. They did begin to count the work but did not begin to pay us for it.

Quite the opposite. In the UK we lost Income Support which many single mothers had relied on to be financially independent. Those of us who are disabled saw our financial stability slashed under austerity cuts – 86 per cent of which fell on women.

Successive govern­ments insisted we go out to work even for the lowest pay – one reason why more than four million UK children, including 35 per cent of Camden’s children, live in poverty, and be assured their mothers are missing meals to feed them. There are more children in care than for decades, and low-income single mothers are more likely to have their children taken by social services than to get the help they are entitled to by law.

Yet there are now 220 women MPs and nearly 30 per cent of FTSE100 board positions are held by women. But what’s in it for us?

The hierarchies remain, shifting and not always for the better as the rich are richer and the poor poorer, and wars are raging with weapons poor people pay for.

We’ve been fighting to protect our children from the polluted air which makes them ill and sometimes kills them. Now none can avoid facing the climate emergency. That’s why we are part of the Green New Deal for Europe to demand a Care Income for the work of human survival we were never paid for, and the work of halting and undoing the destruction of Mother Earth, South and North, so we can all survive. All genders, all carers, all survivors.

• The Global Women’s Strike and other organi­sations at Crossroads Women’s Centre will be celebrating International Women’s Day on Sunday March 8, with an Open Day from 12-6pm, 25 Wolsey Mews, NW5 2DX. All welcome. www.facebook.com/GlobalWomensStrike
• Selma James is founder of the International Wages for Housework Campaign, and the author of The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community; and Sex, Race and Class – The Perspective of Winning

http://camdennewjournal.com/article/lets-value-the-work-of-human-survival