According to research by the Melinda Gates, on average women work seven years longer than men in their lifetime. Much of these extra years of work is when womenfolk work on house chores.
Male economists usually don’t account household chores as work and assume it should go unpaid. It is also not measured as productive work. Melinda Gates has devoted her life into understanding the barriers brought about by gender inequality.
Being the head of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mrs. Gates has come across situations where the womenfolk’s socio-economic progress has been undercut by gender inequality. That is through their philanthropic endeavors to undertake household duties as opposed to their male counterparts.
Mrs. Gates recently earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her efforts to shed light on gender inequality and putting in place measures to address it. She has several works where she highlights “unpaid labor” women do such as cooking, cleaning, childcare, and other household tasks.
In her report, she says women are spending more time on unpaid labor that equates to over seven years compared to when men start/stopped working. The independence of women to a greater extent comes from being paid, and the fact they go for a long period in their lives while working without pay. Means they are not fully in control of their lives.
Mrs. Gates argues that the time women spend at home taking care of the family is time they could be spending on getting their education, earning an income, being active in political and social activities.
“I think it’s far time we changed that and have the real conversation about this 90 minutes extra of work that women do at home in the United States [each week],” said Mrs. Gates during an interview with the Business Insider.
In her own home, Mrs. Gates and her husband Bill Gates have addressed the issue of unpaid labor at their own home by dividing up the house chores. Duties, like washing the dishes, doing laundry, general house cleaning, is divided up between the family members.
She went further to say that she had noticed that she had to spend an extra 15 minutes clearing the dinner table after the family meal. So one day, with her hands on her hips, she told the family, “Nobody leaves the kitchen until I leave the kitchen!”
Given her family had five members, the 15 minutes was divided among them, and she ended up spending just five minutes.
“I think we just have to sometimes name these extra invisible things that people don’t even see that we do as women.”