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Women and work

Charles Ginner (1878-1952) “Women in a Clothing Factory”

“There is not a single country or a single sector in which women have the same salaries as men. It is the greatest theft in history”. According to Anuradha Seth, a Macroeconomics Policy Advisor of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the average difference of 23 per cent which exists throughout the world between women’s and men’s salaries may be described as the greatest injustice to which women are subjected today. It is at last coming to the world’s attention and conscience that the asymmetries in salaries – even though they have been reduced across the globe in the past 10 years – make it clear how very far we are from parity. It is precisely this salary gap that reflects discrimination and inequalities in the work market which, in practice, still hit women especially. At the current pace, the United Nations warns, it will take more than seven years to put an end to this situation. The salary difference, as we show in this issue of women church world, does not have one or two causes but rather is due to the accumulation of numerous factors and forms of cultural behaviour which include the underestimation of women’s work, the lack of remuneration for domestic work, less participation in the world market, the level of the qualifications acquired and discrimination. A social disadvantage which affects the income of women throughout their lives: by earning less than men, also during retirement, women are more exposed to the risk of poverty in old age. And the high percentage of women aged over 65 in real danger of poverty is already a true scourge in the world today. In these pages you will also find the opinion of the psychologist Daniela Scotto di Fasano on how the economic logic that regulates female work influences a woman’s decision to become a mother and gives rise to feelings of guilt connected to the possible renunciation of her professional fulfilment. Finally, we have also turned our gaze to the Church where, in Marie-Lucile Kubacki’s report, the question of the unperceived economic equivalent to the above situation can be considered as the trees which prevent us from seeing the forest of a far greater problem: that of recognizing the state of affairs. So many women religious have the feeling that much is being done to give new value to male vocations but that very little is being done to do the same for female vocations. (silvina pérez)

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St. Peter’s Square

Nov. 19, 2018

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