Value us! Fair pay for domestic work in Nicaragua

Catherine Hoskyns – New Internationalists – 15 August 2013 (originally published 12 Aug)

Addilia Amador Sevilla
Adilia has been a beneficiary of funding from the initiative which she has used to buy cows and chickens. She is seen here in front of the co-operative shop where she works and which now sells a range of products produced by women. Image: The Body Shop

An innovative development is currently taking place in Nicaragua. A number of co-operatives with Fair Trade contracts are including in the costs of production (for sesame oil and green coffee) a component for the unpaid work of women. They see this work as supporting production and creating stability – and, as such, deserving recognition and remuneration. This is exceptional in a world which consistently undervalues women’s work and refuses either to measure it or count it as economic activity, despite feminist campaigning over several decades. The money raised is being used by the co-operatives for collective projects to empower women and improve gender balance in the wider community. As Adilia says, the relations between men and women are being radically altered.

So how did this initiative come about ?

There are three types of unpaid work mainly done by women: work which is part of actual production although unpaid (like sorting coffee cherries); work which contributes indirectly to production (like washing work clothes); and domestic and other work in the home which contributes generally to the stability of the household and the community . . .

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