International Women’s Day – Opinion: When housework and “real” work meet.

By Petra Kurtović

If you are a working class woman during a pandemic, there’s no such thing as rest.

Balancing work and family responsibilities has always been a challenge, but now more than ever, housework and “real” work are intertwined and there’s no clear line between the two.

As a result of the pandemic, women face a double burden – longer shifts at work and additional care work at home.

During the coronavirus lockdown, experts say domestic violence has increased substantially. Women suffer violence from their partners at home, while – in parallel – having online meetings and trying to prepare meals for their families.

If they have children, due to online teaching, they have to feed them during work hours and help them with their homework and learning. They are tired, but at the same time afraid to take sick leave because they are not sure if their contracts will be extended.

This (house)work is systematically being ignored and undervalued, and women’s economic and social contribution through it is not recognised. It is not even considered to be genuine work, just something that “women do”.

In addition, women are on the frontier of fighting the pandemic. Globally, women make up over 70% of workers in the health sector – including those working in care institutions. Nurses, care workers, pharmacists, cleaners, teachers, grocery store clerks – all are essential roles doing essential work.

This work has always been essential, but only now during the pandemic we started calling it so.

We need to take the current coronavirus pandemic as a wakeup call. We need to take this opportunity to imagine feminist alternatives for the prevailing order.

It is time that women lead the rethinking and redesigning of the world.