Not only do 1 in 4 people in Wales live in poverty but 50% of households living in poverty have at least one person working. Dr Claire Evans’ report In-work poverty and the search for decent work for women in Wales highlights the reasons why people in work in Wales are living in poverty, the effects this has on men and women and outlines possible solutions. Despite women in work increasing and girls outperforming men in education women are still more disadvantaged in the labour market. The gender pay gap shows that women earn 80% less than men (including part-time and full-time work) and 80% of part-time jobs are held by women.
The importance of educating young people and raising their awareness of the causes, effects and solutions of in-work poverty and decent work for women in Wales and across the world led to the production of an infographic summary of the report. This will soon feature in an educational resource for 14-19 year olds undertaking the Welsh Baccalaureate Global Citizenship Challenge.
The results of unequal participation in the labour market are clear to see. There is a higher percentage of working women (44%) in part-time work compared to men (12%) and over 70% of women working part-time earn less than the Living Wage. In fact, as Dr Evans discovered, part-time work for women is also more likely to be subject to temporary or zero-hours contracts. Furthermore, 75% of part-time jobs are in the 5 C’s – catering, cashiering, cleaning, clerical and caring – sectors which women dominate. In these sectors are not only is low pay is prevalent and jobs insecure but opportunities for training and progression is also limited.
This is not a problem which is experienced only in Wales. Women all across the world are not participating equally in the economy. In a recent blog by Francesca Rhodes, Man-Kwun Chan and Anam Parvez Butt, Feminist solutions to man-made economic inequality[i] it is highlighted that “globally, women earn 23% less than men and have a 50% lower share of wealth.” Women globally not only live in poverty but they face discrimination, an unfair share of unpaid care work and restrictions on their freedoms.
Unpaid domestic work and care is often prioritised by women when facing a choice between a career and looking after their family. Winnie Byanyima, , Executive Director of Oxfam International, agrees that the global economy isn’t working for women. In a blog of the same name Winnie points out that women contribute “10 trillion – yes, trillion – to the economy in unpaid care and domestic work.”[ii] To add to this there are fewer women in positions of power which means fewer role models for our young people to look up to, to aspire to be.
Winnie emphasises that “the business of changing ideas and attitudes – the informal laws that dictate what women can and can’t do, like having to care in the home or being unable to own land – is far harder.”[iii] Similarly, in Wales, stereotypes and gender barriers affect the way that women participate in the economy and these are outlined in the infographic.
Rhodes et al point out that “access to free public childcare in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil increased low-income mothers’ employment rates by 27%. In parts of Zimbabwe, providing access to an improved water source could reduce women’s average unpaid care workload by four hours a day – the equivalent of two months a year.” In Wales, Dr Evans highlights where we can make changes to improve the situation for women including in Welsh Government policy, employment, education and public awareness, training and apprenticeships.
Oxfam Cymru are working with the WJEC’s Welsh Baccalaureate to provide learners with the opportunity to study women’s rights and decent work for women by undertaking a Global Citizenship Challenge. Dr Evans comment that, “It’s a fantastic achievement having the Decent Work report as a Welsh Baccalaureate resource. I can’t think of a better way of propagating the message to the generation it will impact most.”
Let’s all work together to achieve a fairer and more equitable economy that works for women, in Wales and globally. The challenge will be available to download from the WJEC website and the source pack from the Oxfam Cymru website in May 2019. Please contact email@example.com if you are interested in trialling the resources.
[i] Rhodes, Francesca, Chan, Man-Kwun and Parvez, Anam (January 24th 2019) Feminist solutions to man-made economic inequality https://views-voices.oxfam.org.uk/2019/01/economic-inequality-gender/
[ii] Byanyima, Winnie (6th June 2018) The global economy isn’t working for women. Here’s what world leaders must do. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/06/why-economic-inequality-feminist-issue-winnie-byanyima/
[iii] Byanyima, Winnie (6th June 2018) The global economy isn’t working for women. Here’s what world leaders must do. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/06/why-economic-inequality-feminist-issue-winnie-byanyima/