The Refusal of Global Economists to Recognize Women’s Unpaid Labor

marilyn waring_working_class_hero

Whose Counting?

Directed by Terre Nash (1995)

Film Review

 

Whose Counting is a 1995 Canadian documentary about the early life of New Zealand feminist Marilyn Waring. With her 1988 book If Women Counted, Waring was the first to challenge whether GDP (gross domestic product) is an effective way to measure the performance of a national economy.

New Zealand’s Antinuclear Ban

The film begins with Waring’s election to the New Zealand parliament in 1977. The youngest member of Parliament (at 23), she was elected to a safe National (conservative) seat in rural Waikato. After serving three 3-year terms, she brought the government down by “crossing the floor” (ie signaling her intention to vote with the Labour opposition on the anti-nuclear issue).

Then prime minister Robert Muldoon called a snap election. He was voted out of office, with 72% of New Zealanders supporting Labour’s platform of permanently outlawing nuclear weapons and nuclear power in New Zealand.

Because the US government refuses to disclose whether their ships are nuclear powered or carry nuclear weapons, as of 1984 all US naval vessels are banned from New Zealand sovereign waters.

Negating Half the Planet

During her term in Parliament, Waring served on the Public Expenditure Committee and was troubled by was she learned was the UN System of National Accounts. As a condition of belonging to the UN, IMF and World Bank, all countries must use this system, developed by economists Maynard Keynes and Nicholas Stern after World War II.

Because this accounting system only attributes value to cash generating activities, it negates the productive activity of over half the planet – and of the planet itself.*

The film has a really humorous scene in rural Africa where women grow and cook all the food, collect all the firewood and water, and do all the housework and child and elder care – while the men lie around all day “supervising” them.

However it stresses that women also work far harder than men in the developed world. Two-thirds of all primary health care is delivered by women in the home. Yet because they receive no cash payments, all this work is virtually invisible.

Counting Environmental Damage as Growth

Waring is also extremely critical of a global accounting system that counts the immense environmental damage caused by the Exxon Valdez spill as positive GDP Growth. Given that the five permanent UN Security Council members (US, UK, France, Russia and China) are also the world’s biggest arms exporters, she finds it no surprise that the carnage of war counts as GDP growth.


*Waring was also an early promoter of the concept of “ecosystem services,” essential services provided by nature in purifying water and air, sequestering carbon, stabilizing climate, providing for food crop pollination, etc.

The film can’t be embedded for copyright reasons. However it can be viewed free at https://www.nfb.ca/film/whos_counting

 

21 thoughts on “The Refusal of Global Economists to Recognize Women’s Unpaid Labor

  1. THEY WANT TO REPLACE HUMANITY WITH ROBOTS, SO WHY SHOULD THEY CARE. THEY WOULD PREFER BOTH MEN AND WOMEN BE DEAD, SO THAT WAY THEY DO NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT HEALTH INSURANCE, ETC…AND CAN DO BUSINESS AROUND THE CLOCK. IT IS NO LONGER A WOMAN’S ISSUE, IT IS A HUMANITY ISSUE.

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      • Oh Dr.B, Tubularsock gets your point but in truth Tubularsock see VERY FEW healthy functional adults! Tubularsock doesn’t blame women and agrees robots would be worthless at this task but there are so many factors that cause the demise of individuals from childhood to adulthood and in so many ways WE have failed!

        Tubularsock is waiting for the mother ship.

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  2. John Kenneth Galbraith, who, I hate to say was a Canadian, based a lot of his thinking on the unpaid labour of women. They probably allowed women in the work place because they could pay them less than the men for the same amount of work.
    I remember Marilyn Waring and some of her advanced ideas. She is right about the GDP being a very poor measure of an economy.
    Leslie

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    • WHAT WE FAIL TO UNDERSTAND IS THAT THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT WOMEN IN MASS POPULATIONS. THE ONLY WOMEN THAT THEY DO CARE ABOUT, AND THIS IS ONLY TO INDICATE AN EXAMPLE ARE: MELANIA TRUMP, IVANKA TRUMP, MERKEL, KIM KARDASHIAN, SELENA GOMEZ, POLITICIAN WIVES, ETC…, AND WHAT US WOMEN NEED TO UNDERSTAND IS THAT OUR MEN FALL INTO THESE SAME KINDS OF RICH/POOR SEGMENTS. TO THE GLOBAL ELITE CABAL WE ARE ALL SLAVES. IN FACT, WE CAN EXPECT MORE SLAVERY IN THE FUTURE, UPON WOMEN AND MEN. IF YOU DO NOT CURRENTLY HAVE YOUR RICHES AND LUXURY OF WORLDLY GOODS, THEN THIS WORLD IS NOT GOING TO CARE ABOUT YOU, NO MATTER WHAT YOUR GENDER. THE GLOBAL ELITE CABAL WANT TO SEE A REDUCED WORLD POPULATION, SO THAT THEY CAN MANAGE AND CONTROL US BETTER. I LIVE HERE IN SANDY SPRINGS, GA USA, AND BELIEVE YOU ME, BOTH OF US WOMEN AND MEN ARE DOING MORE THAN STRUGGLE TO MAKE ENDS MEET, BUT NOT THE RICH. THERE IS AN INCREDIBLE WIDE GAP BETWEEN THE RICH AND POOR HERE. WE ALSO HAVE MEN AND WOMEN WHO ARE IN POOR HEALTH AND STRUGGLING FOR EVERY ASSISTANCE POSSIBLE. WE HAVE A HOMELESS POPULATION THAT IS JUST ABOUT TO GO THROUGH THE ROOF. CHURCHES AND SYNAGOGUES ARE BARELY ABLE TO MEET THE NEEDS OF THE INCREASING POOR HERE. I DO NOT DRIVE; HENCE, I TAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION CALLED MARTA HERE, AND YOU CAN HEAR SOME CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN PATRONS ON THE BUS. ONE MAN WAS TALKING TO A WOMAN AND HE HAS TO GET FOUR PART-TIME JOBS JUST TO STOP FROM BEING HOMELESS. WE HAVE WOMEN WHO TRY TO TAKE CARE OF CHILDREN IN DIRTY BABY STROLLERS AND CARRIAGES, WE HAVE THRIFT STORES, WHO THEY EVEN SOMETIME HOLD A SALE, SO THAT PEOPLE CAN AFFORD THINGS. THE MALLS ARE FOR THE RICH AND THE THRIFT STORES HERE ARE FOR THE POOR. WE HAVE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HERE SOMETIMES SO FLOODED WITH CALLS, YOU HAVE TO WAKE UP SOMETIMES AT 5AM IN THE MORNING JUST TO PREPARE YOURSELF TO GET THROUGH, THEN THEY SOMETIMES SHUT THE LINES DOWN, BECAUSE THEY HAVE TAKEN ENOUGH CALLS THAT THEY CAN HANDLE FOR THE DAY. EXPECT IT TO GET FAR WORSE, AS THE UNITED NATIONS PREPARE TO DISMANTLE ITSELF AND CALL IT UNDER A NEW ESTABLISHMENT OF THE FEDERATED EARTH. THE FEDERATED EARTH IS GOING TO BE FAR WORSE THAN THE UNITED NATIONS NOW. YOU HAD BETTER COMPLY WITH THEIR LAWS OR ELSE THEY WILL PERMANENTLY SHUT YOU DOWN.

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    • Excellent point, Rosaliene. Moreover economic education shows the most important education (resulting in productive adults who contribute to the economy) doesn’t take place in schools but in the early years at home.

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      • I AGREE WITH THE BOTH OF YOU. IN FACT THE CHILDREN WHO ARE HOME SCHOOLED SCORE HIGHER ON ENTRANCE EXAMS IN COLLEGE AND DO BETTER IN COLLEGE, THAN THOSE GOING TO OTHER SCHOOLS. IN THE STUPID USA OF OURS, THE SCHOOLS HAVE INCREASING BECOME A PLACE OF SEXUAL CONTACT BETWEEN ADULTS AND CHILDREN, A PLACE OF VIOLENCE AND FALSE INFORMATION. OUR SCHOOLS HAVE BECOME DREADFUL AND IF THE STUDENT DOES NOT AGREE WITH THE TEACHER AND/OR PROFESSOR, IN SOME CASES THEY WILL FAIL THEM AND NOT GIVE THEM A PASSING GRADE IN THAT SUBJECT. COLLEGE GRADUATES WHO ARE AMERICAN BORN HAVE A TORTURE OF A TIME GETTING WORK AFTER GRADUATION, BECAUSE OUR CORRUPTED AND GREEDY CEOS WANT TO HIRE FOREIGNERS ON WORK VISAS, PAY THEM CHEAPER, SO THEY CAN HAVE MORE BONUSES. SCHOOL IS NOT SCHOOL ANYMORE, IT IS NOW A PLACE TO HANG OUT.

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  3. Pingback: The Mommy Tax | The Most Revolutionary Act

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