The fact is: women are in the bottom of just work and sustainable livelihoods! Zely Ariane*
Women are the dominant labor force. Asia Pacific region has seen around 70 percent female participation in the labor market. According to World Bank the figure was 52 percent in 2010 in Indonesia. From the figure we know that woman as a labor force is only ‘valued’ at the labor market. Their work from early in the morning until late night at home, or their housework, is never considered a productive work. With the specific problems of women workers lay on the working place, specific demands have been raised, such as equal pay, a more gender sensitive on wage components, family incentives, etc. But for a working mother at home, single or with husband, there has been no demand on protection or benefit whatsoever. Since women housework is considered a just work in patriarchal society. Women are also still considered secondary breadwinner in capitalist society. So it is their ‘fate’ of being the first layers to be sacked because of their reproductive cycles or in the tide of capitalist crisis as today. Women don’t get any family incentive since their work is ‘only’ to help their husband. No family allowance for women as a working mother, nor help for any single mother. Women are left alone for taking care of their family. They are also often have less secure contract than man, since they are more “flexible” labor force compare to men. The contribution I would like to make in this session is trying to put a gender dimension on what is called just work and sustainable livelihood, particularly in the time of capitalist crisis as today. It benefit all workers, including women workers, for any just work campaign, but it’s not in itself decreasing women double burden in housework. It’s also similar thing with a decent wage campaign, which is not in itself brings a just and equal wage for women. Without gender sensitivity and stands there’s no just work and there will be no sustainable livelihood for all people. So this is the importance of incorporating gender dimension on the issue. A just work and sustainable livelihood means that there will be no poorest sections of society are women anymore! That is why labor movement needs to start to incorporate, above all in Indonesian case, a pro women approach in adding component of wage calculation. Family benefit or allowance for married women or working mother is also an important demand. A complete social security for mother is additional importance, since all mothers are working mother; it is not to mention the need to discuss on housework wages as an approach to acknowledge housework done by women as a productive work. Are all these luxury demands in the time of capitalist crisis and neoliberal attack? Not at all if we understand that women are always on the forefront of any nastiest, lowest, precarious, longest, dangerous type of any works in this society. Women are the most exploited and discriminated in this system, and based on their sacrifice it has reproduced itself successfully. So enough is enough! We are not causing the crisis and we are not going to bear it!
National Committee of Mahardhika Women (Free Women) Indonesia