Unpaid work not feminist issue

TheStar.com – Opinion/Letters – Re: Feminomics: Calculating the value of ‘women’s work,’ Oct. 30
Published On Tue Nov 16 2010.    Terry Haines

The “patriarchal economic paradigm” label attributed to Marilyn Waring is irrelevant feminist baggage. It is not motherhood that is undervalued and unrecognized, but family. The unpaid work that goes into family — not just mom’s but dad’s too — is what makes the economic system possible.

As a father of two, I did my share of diaper changing and soothing nighttime terrors, in addition to vacation driving, mending fences, helping with homework, fixing the car, the long drive to and from my place of work every day and keeping the peace around the house when mom was catching a break. In the interests of economic transparency on behalf of all fathers, I hereby present my bill: no charge — just kidding!

I have been more than fairly repaid by the respect of society, the love of my children, and the knowledge that they will contribute to a better future for all. Also, I figure I owed a debt for my parents’ efforts on my behalf. I guess I’m old-fashioned.

The point is, unpaid work is not a feminist issue and needs to be brought out of that particular closet. On the home front, there’s value in empowering such work. If it releases an intelligent woman for work, allows a man to work from home as part of the solution to traffic woes, helps people reduce health costs by caring for needy family members at home, then it can pay back.

Recognizing this can lead to economic benefits. Perhaps governments would be more willing to pursue these options if economic benefits were emphasized instead of pounding feminist drums. Liberals may like it but Conservatives march to the beat of economics, so change drums!

On a global note, the article identifies a number of problems that need to be fixed. I didn’t see any solutions being touted, but we can all make a start by looking for and buying “fair trade” products, which ensure a decent return to subsistence farmers. Ask your local grocery store for these. If they don’t have them ask why not! It’s a small start that will actually do something, without raising taxes.

Terry Haines, Alliston

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