The clamp is narrowing not only because the burden of care work has increased, but also because women’s unemployment will increase in the crisis we are going through.
In the period we live in, unemployment and inflation on the one hand and the pandemic on the other hand cause the paid labor/unpaid labor clamp that women always face in patriarchal capitalism to narrow down, and cause women to be imprisoned in this vicious circle. It is now very difficult for women to purchase privatized/subcontracted care services (whether it is home care for the elderly and child, health care for themselves and their families in private hospitals and health centers, care service at aged care homes, or childcare at play schools or kindergartens) because they are unemployed or because their purchasing power has decreased extremely. As the first lockdown period of the pandemic reveals, it is necessary to add to this the care burden of household and care work, which is increased incrementally by all households staying at home during the pandemic period. There is no guarantee that a similar lockdown will not occur in the coming period: With the spread of the Omicron variant, partial lockdowns have already begun in some European countries and Japan. Therefore, it is not difficult to foresee that more and more care work will be demanded from women.
The clamp is narrowing not only because the burden of care has increased, but also because women’s unemployment will increase in the crisis we are going through. It is possible to say that with the new minimum wage regulation, the difference between wages of men and women will decrease, and as the wage levels get closer to each other, women will lose their low wage “advantages” in terms of being hired/not fired. This means that the burden of care on women who are confined to the home and who cannot receive care services is multiplied.
On the other hand, it is not difficult to foresee that especially women living alone will lose their access to independent housing/accommodation conditions on their own under these circumstances and when rents are hitting record high.
It is impossible to reconcile the logic of care work with the logic of the market: In-home care for the patient, the elderly, and child, as well as care services in institutionalized health and education services, conflict with the market’s need to increase profits, and therefore productivity, because care work requires endurance, patience, emotional investment and related to these, most importantly, time. The quality of care given is in direct proportion to the time spent. Therefore, privatization and subcontracting both reduce the quality of care services and cheap care services cannot be offered in the market. This general truth is evident in the recent revolt of healthcare professionals against performance pressure and low wages, and in the miserable desperation of privatized medical services and vaccine policies based on patent monopoly, while coping with the pandemic .
It is not possible to say that the crisis we are experiencing is only an economic crisis, it can even be said that it is a politically provoked economic crisis. Therefore, it seems not to be overcame without destroying the one-man dictatorship. Therefore, as women, we can create our perspective for the coming period mobilizing for early elections together with the LGBTI+ movement and other labor and democracy forces, with the demands of regime change and then nationalizing all kinds of care services for the next period, free public transportation for women and cheap/free housing for women who are alone and/or with children.
Translator: Gülcan Ergün
Proof-reader: Müge Karahan