Capitalism has always depended on the labor of women for profits. Women have often been paid very little or nothing at all, and today they occupy the largest portion of the most essential, precarious and worst-paying jobs.
Globally, women make up:
- 70% of healthcare workers
- 83% of elementary school teachers
- 60% of service workers
Women do the majority of unpaid work at home:
- Women’s unpaid care work adds up to $10.8 trillion per year.
- Around the world, more than 40% of women can’t work in paid jobs because of their responsibilities providing unpaid care for children, elders, and sick family members.
On top of the essential and invisible work women do, they also endure systemic violence:
- One in three women around the world have experienced physical or sexual violence.
- Every year, almost 90,000 women and girls are murdered because of their gender.
- More than 800 women around the world die every day from preventable complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
- About 40 percent of women live in countries with restrictive abortion laws. In the U.S., several states have passed laws to ban abortions after six weeks. There are now six states that have just one abortion clinic.
- Women in migrant detention centers in the U.S. have been subjected to forced sterilization. This is nothing new. 70,000 women were sterilized in the U.S. throughout the 20th century, overwhelmingly poor and working-class women of color. In Puerto Rico, nearly one-third of women were sterilized from the 1930s to the 1970s.
- In the U.S. alone, more than 19 million women lack access to contraception.
- Transgender and gender non-conforming people are frequent targets of hate crimes.
The increasing impoverishment of women, the continued push to ban abortion, and the defunding of healthcare access will certainly add to these numbers if nothing changes.
Women Fight Back
In the most recent period, women have led several fights against the oppressive laws of this system of exploitation:
- In October 2020, hundreds of thousands of people across Poland marched against anti-abortion laws.
- In December 2020, women in Argentina won the right to abortion after 35 years of struggle.
- Women garment workers in Myanmar are fighting for better working and living conditions in spite of extreme military repression.
- Globally, women workers played a big role in the fight for PPE and safety measures in the pandemic.
This system says that we need more women politicians and CEOs so that we can have equal representation in the halls of power. But if we really want to build a society free from gender oppression and violence, then we have to make a united fight to get rid of this oppressive system.