Socialise housework

Socialise housework

I note the following references to housework in the excellent updated Women's Charter:

Imagine a world where caring and domestic work is valued and shared, and the welfare of the young, old, sick and disabled is everybody's concern.

In 2008-09, the value of unpaid care was estimated as $68.4 billion. Women still do most of the household work and care for children, and sick, disabled and elderly relatives.

Imagine a world where elderly and disabled women live independently and at home for as long as they wish because they have a guaranteed liveable income and there are plenty of community support workers to help with housework, health-care and transportation.

The Socialist Alliance Women's Charter says the burden of household work on the average woman is unjust. But it falls short of advocating a clear policy for reducing this burden of housework.

While the Charter advocates elderly and disabled women should access “community support workers to help with housework” the same services are not being advocated for non-disabled, young or middle aged women who are currently struggling to manage domestic responsibilities in addition to their paid employment and carer roles.

The solution being put forward in our Charter is “a world where caring and domestic work is valued and shared”. This seems to be suggesting that the unfair burden of domestic work borne by women should be addressed by sharing out this work more equally amongst adults within each household rather than through service provision.

As 20% of all families are headed by single parents (mostly single mothers) valuing and sharing of domestic work will be of little use to these women as there is usually no other adult living in their households to value or share domestic work.

In many two parent families, where both partners work increasingly long hours to establish themselves financially, domestic work is an unfair burden on both men and women and deprives them of much needed relaxation time and quality time with their children.

In years gone by the socialist movement advocated “the socialisation of housework”. What has happened to this demand? It seems to have been replaced by the expectation that men within the household will share equally in domestic work and thus liberate women! But men doing more domestic work is of limited value to women who live alone (or with each other) and single fathers also experience an unfair burden of domestic work.

Housework? We're over it. Give us all a break and create jobs through establishing universally available, affordable house cleaning services.