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. 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.
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) 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.
 Women’s Budget Group on figures supplied by Autonomy.