Albanian women spend almost a quarter (21.74%) of their day doing unpaid work such as cooking, cleaning, and taking care of children and family members. In contrast, Albanian men spent only 3.47% of their day doing work that they are not paid for.
If we consider that the average employed Albanian works a 47 hour week, this corresponds to women working 40 hours a month- almost an entire working week, for free. The value of this labour is EUR 71 based on an average monthly salary of EUR 330, and when you consider that 35% of the approximate 1.08 million women in Albania are employed this equates to the Albanian economy missing out on a potential EUR 27 million every single month. A staggering EUR 324 million a year. If you consider the whole of the female workforce, this figure rises to almost EUR 1 billion, every single year.
Other sources tell a similar story. For example, the International Monetary Fund found that unpaid work could account for up to 60% of the GDP although it notes it is hard to quantify in monetary terms. This trend is supported in other studies carried out across other countries, showing that such figures are completely plausible.
I am not suggesting that women be paid for housework and raising children, I am suggesting that men start to share the burden of these unpaid hours.
Women make a huge economic contribution that fills a big gap in services. Why is it not shared or counted? Cooking, cleaning, looking after children and the elderly- every economy depends on such work and it also accounts for a large percentage of the GDP.
The work that women do, without payment or even recognition, can contribute more to the success of a country than that of manufacturing or commerce.
For example, my day starts at around 6 am and does not stop until around 9 pm each night. Eight hours of this are my work, one hour is ‘break time’ distributed throughout the day, one hour is my morning coffee, and the rest is unpaid domestic work that I carry out seven days a week.
That equates to 35 hours a week- almost as much as I spend working on my career.
Women in Albania and most other countries are essentially working two full-time jobs, while men spend an average of 43 minutes a day doing work that is not their primary employment.
To obtain economic equality and autonomy for women, we need to recognise their work both socially and economically while encouraging men to take part in domestic work. Going by the statistics, men should either work two full-time salaried jobs or do their share of child-rearing and housework to ensure the deficit to the economy is closed.
Unfortunately, none of us will see anything close to gender parity in our lifetimes, nor will our children. As per the findings of the Global Gender Gap report 2020, it is going to take just shy of 100 years for equality to be attained at the current pace.
While Albania fares well in the report, coming in at number 20 and identified at one of the top 5 most-improved, this is mainly due to political participation and education levels. The report found that women are more educated in more subjects, work harder for longer at school, work more unpaid hours, yet receive less money and have less senior positions.
We have a society where women are existing as de facto single mothers, single-handedly working two jobs, while men sit back and reap the rewards.