I would never have thought of writing an article at a time that empirically confirms what feminist economists have always theorized: The basis of all economic activity is the care of people and their immediate life needs. But only cynics would have liked the empirical evidence that the virus pandemic shows us to an unprecedented extent.
Yes, there is a large number of empirical studies on the vital responsibility and care work of women in paid and unpaid fields of work, especially the international time budget studies. These studies record how much time people spend on which activities during the day and the year.
And the finding is confirmed regularly: A very Much of the time goes into activities that are not mediated through the market and are therefore not considered to be “economic.”
Much more individual and social well-being is created by Work done outside of the spheres of social activity known as “economy”. This would not be a problem in itself, if it would not also underpin social hierarchies.
If car work is paid, then worse
Paid work is more important than unpaid (otherwise it would not be paid), market-mediated, goods-producing work is rated higher than the unpaid supply of people in the household. And if people-related work is paid, it is significantly lower than the production of goods for retail.
[Unsere neue Aktion “Zu Hause mit dem Tagesspiegel” – wie wir Ihnen durch den neuen Alltag im Ausnahmezustand helfen:Ein Überblick.]
These studies have been in Germany for more than 30 years, and they also indicate that with this time use the gender hierarchy is cemented. The closer the work is to immediate life support, the closer it is to the immediate satisfaction of needs for food, material and emotional care, but also care for sickness and support in dying, the more feminine this work is.
With this fact and its fundamental effects on social life we are faced existentially in the current crisis. Of course, we can continue to live without the production of cars and planes – even if we have only guessed what this will mean for the global economy.
But we are currently thrown back on the basic facts of our life: We are individually and socially dependent on the need for our physical existence for food, housing, care in the broadest sense, including care with empathetic care, everyday help, emotional support, to be satisfied. And how and by whom are they breastfed?
[Christine Bauhardt, die Autorin dieses Gastbeitrags, ist Professorin für Gender und Globalisierung an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.]
This is where the time budget studies help us, which zoom like “binoculars” into “normal times”. It is women who take on this work, and women who have to shoulder overtime if all safety nets such as school, daycare, childcare, sports and cultural activities fail.
Men who are no longer “out of the house”, take care and keep them happy
We can only guess at the moment how the additional workload affects the situation of women in the confines of their own four walls. Work in the home office if the children are to be taught via “homeschooling”? When shopping, cooking and general household chores take up a lot more time than under normal conditions?
[Wie es zwischen Schulen, Schülerinnen und Schülern und ihren Eltern im Homeschooling läuft, lesen Sie hier in einem Artikel über das aktuelle Schulbarometer.]
Many middle class households afford household help and childcare workers during “normal times”. These women almost always come from other countries and take on care work, even if they have higher educational qualifications but cannot find sufficient employment opportunities in their countries of origin. The global care chain ensures that care work is always devalued as “women's work”.
And what does it mean if the men, who are normally “out of the house”, have to be looked after and kept in a good mood? The time budget studies tell us that the more children live in the household, the more time men spend working outside the home.
High proportion of women among hospital staff
This is not only for monetary reasons, because men and women see gainful employment as an important resource in order not to get lost in everyday life in small and small businesses. But the absence from home seems to be much more attractive for men than for women. Their working time patterns often include part-time work, in order to be able to take care of responsibility in addition to their own gainful employment.
Of course, not all people are equal before the virus. He also meets the powerful, as prominent examples show. But how people can react to the challenge of the ban on contact can be assessed very differently depending on the income, living and educational situation.
The Damocles sword of loss of existence for small self-employed people – very much many women are among them, hairdressers, dressmakers, artists, booksellers – if it threatens them much more fundamentally than the half-way secured industrial workers with the right to short-time allowance or employees in the public service.
The proportion of women in hospital staff is also very high, facing the sick as well as the lack of basic equipment with protective clothing. In the meantime, there has been a lot of complaint about the overexploitation of the public health system over the past 30 in the course of the privatization of public services.
In the hospital strike 2018 it was mainly women who argued that the working conditions in the hospitals must improve drastically. They did not strike for more money in their own wallets, but for more staff and better care for the patients. Yes, you want to call out, yes! Where have these improvements gone?
Correct inequalities after the crisis? It would be nice
Now the general dismantling of public health care is taking its toll in a dramatic way. He avenges himself on the patient and, even more fatally, he avenges the women who raised the alarm a long time ago. The Berlin nurse Nina Magdalena Böhmer posted on Facebook “You can put your applause anywhere else” and calls for solidarity and political action for the nurses instead of singing and applause. How right she is!
Even if you live in a four-room apartment, the ceiling can fall on your head after a short time. How much more difficult is the situation for families who already live in cramped living conditions under normal conditions? No children's playground open, no garden, no balcony, where the children can simply be sent to the fresh desire.
[Lesen Sie auch: Die Eltern sollen nicht die Lehrerrolle übernehmen – ein Psychologe gibtTipps für den Heimunterricht.]
Who is supposed to be able to do his or her job at home in a video conference while the homework for the children is being emailed? What does this ask of the mothers who monitor their homework “in normal operation” when they are now required to act as assistant teachers?
Not to mention the Women whose mother tongue is not German and who do not understand the tasks themselves and cannot support their children in learning?
It is not just a question of how “The economy” should get going again after the corona crisis. That is much too short. The question is how to alleviate the social conflicts at close range and how to correct the social inequalities exacerbated by the crisis. I fear “business as usual”: the revived economic output is being announced with increasing growth rates, women are allowed to clear away the trash.
In the US, Boeing has 60 Billions of dollars in state funding required – and approved by Congress. The care sector has demanded 50 billions – and is getting 3.5 billion. Any questions?