From the TUC

Celebrating International Women’s Day

08 Mar 2010, by in Equality

International Women’s Day has seen the release of a fascinating range of women focused facts. These range from the concerning (twice as many men than women think the sexes are equal when it comes to getting the top jobs with men also twice as likely to appear on TV) to the political (Boris Johnson aims to eradicate violence against women in London while Gordon Brown has called for dramatic change to increase female representation on company boards) and the slightly tangential (a higher share of women than men use internet banking in Estonia, France, Latvia and Lithuania).

The ITUC have published an illuminating report that documents the extent to which women still undertake a greater share of household and childcare duties than men, and considers the significant impact this has on women’s career possibilities and on working patterns. It includes analysis from an international WageIndicator survey (which included 345,000 responses over 43 countries) that considered women’s and men’s different opportunities at work. The analysis shows that when it comes to housework men with children contribute even less than those without children, while the opposite is true for women. These results are also broken down by country – although arguably variation in sample sizes limits the extent to which results are directly comparable. For example, the data reveal that 23.4% of British fathers are undertaking most of the housework surpassing most other countries in the report – including the Netherlands (14%).

Fawcett have also launched a new campaign aiming to document what the programmes of different political parties will mean for women’s lives and for gender equality. Their focus is broad – including the economy, crime and justice and political reform as well as the work and family life issues which are usually described as ‘women’s concerns’. As Lisa Ansell notes on Labour List – women don’t just care about childcare (and family issues should not solely be women’s domain).

Internationally the IUF are calling for rights and recognition for domestic workers – a cause that is championed in the UK by the fantastic Kalayaan. IUF note that domestic work is undervalued and poorly regulated and many domestic workers remain overworked, underpaid and unprotected – vulnerable to extreme mistreatment and abuse (as we highlighted in the final report of the Commission on Vulnerable Employment).

Women’s voices are not heard enough, in enough places, and there is still an enormous amount to do in the fight for gender equality. But at least today has provided space for some reflection on the extent and scope of the progress that is still to be made – and on the fact employers are legally required to allow women at work to go to the toilet.