INVISIBLE LABORERS UNION
“WOMEN OF THE WORLD, UNITE!”
Welcome to the Invisible Laborers Union: a coalition of women who perform the essential but often overlooked work that keeps households and communities running. We are caregivers, housekeepers, educators, and cooks. We are women of every race, creed, color, and political affiliation, united in our struggle for recognition, respect, and fair treatment. We carry the world on our backs, and it’s time for us to be seen and heard.
Parity begins at Home
Women bear a disproportionate burden of household and caregiving responsibilities. We work outside the home, and then come home to a second shift of work that is unpaid and undervalued. This invisible labor is essential to the functioning of our families and communities, yet it is often ignored or dismissed as unimportant.
But we know the truth: without our work, our homes and our communities would fall apart. We silently shoulder the burden and weight of the world. We are the backbone of society, and we deserve to be recognized as such.
Land of the Free (Labor)
The statistics speak for themselves: The value of women’s unpaid labor is enormous. Invisible Laborers have been putting the “free” in freedom for far too long.
In the United States alone, a 2018 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research estimated that the value of unpaid household services performed by women in 2015 was $1.5 trillion, or approximately 7.5% of U.S. GDP.
The National Partnership for Women and Families estimates that the total value of women’s unpaid labor in the United States was $10.9 trillion in 2020, which is equivalent to 55% of the country’s GDP. This estimate takes into account not only household tasks and childcare but also caregiving for elderly or disabled family members, volunteer work, community service, and other unpaid work.
Another study by the United Nations Development Programme estimated that if unpaid care work were to be replaced by paid care work at minimum wage rates, it would represent 9% of global GDP.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women spend an average of 2.6 hours per day on household activities, compared to men’s average of 1.6 hours per day. Women also spend an average of 1.4 hours per day on caregiving activities, compared to men’s average of 1.1 hours per day.
The gender gap in household and caregiving responsibilities is even wider for parents. Among parents with children under 18 years old, women spend an average of 3.5 hours per day on household activities, compared to men’s average of 2.2 hours per day. Women also spend an average of 2.4 hours per day on caregiving activities, compared to men’s average of 1.4 hours per day.
These unpaid activities are estimated to be worth trillions of dollars to the economy each year.
According to a report by Oxfam, the unpaid care work done by women and girls globally is worth at least $10.8 trillion annually, which is more than three times the value of the global tech industry.
Balancing work and caregiving responsibilities can be challenging for women, particularly for those with young children. In 2020, 64% of women with children under 6 years old were in the labor force, compared to 93% of men with children under 6 years old. Among working parents with young children, women were more likely than men to report feeling burnt out (43% vs. 28%) and to say that they had reduced their work hours to care for their children (23% vs. 6%).
We Are The Most Essential Workers
Our work is essential and critical to the survival of our society. It is the foundation of our families, our communities, and our economy. Without us, nothing is possible.
We know that women like us perform the bulk of the invisible labor for families and households, all while also participating in the workforce outside of the home. We cook, we clean, we care for children and elderly relatives, we educate, we organize, we manage — and we do it all with grace and determination. And yet, our work often goes unnoticed and undervalued. We’re the women you’ll never see at a march or a rally because we’re too busy working just to survive — doing the critical work that keeps the world working.
In lieu of flowers, we will rest in peace
It’s a new dawn, and a new day. Year Zero. And in keeping with new year’s tradition, we will commemorate it by dropping the ball.
We call for a general strike of all invisible laborers on Mother’s Day 2023. It’s time to show the world just how much we do and how much we matter by doing absolutely nothing. We will withhold our essential work until our contributions are recognized and valued. By making ourselves scarce, the demand for our services will become visible.
Our demands are simple but powerful: recognition, respect, and support. We ask for:
- Recognition for the essential work we do and respect for the sacrifices we make
- Support from our families, our employers, and our governments, in the form of paid leave, affordable childcare, and fair wages
- Fair pay, equal rights, and equal opportunities for all women
- Better policies that support working families and caregivers
GENERAL STRIKE • MOTHER’S DAY 2023
We’re not just fighting for ourselves, but for future generations of women and families.
Join us in this sit out, and stand with us in solidarity as we demand justice and dignity for all invisible laborers. Let’s make our silence heard to show the world just how powerful we are.