BBC 100 Women: “GDP has never counted the work women do”

Award winning women from across the world were in Delhi on October 22 for the ‘BBC 100 Women’ event hosted by the BBC, themed ‘The Female Future’

Marilyn Waring (Photo courtesy: Social Media)
Marilyn Waring (Photo courtesy: Social Media)

Amir Malik

“The worldwide economic model i.e. the GDP has never counted the work women do,” said Marilyn Waring, a New Zealand based economist and environmentalist at the ‘BBC 100 Women’ hosted by the BBC in Delhi on October 22.

The award-winning women from across the world had come to Andhra Association in Delhi to talk on ‘The Female Future’, the theme of the award-winning brand of BBC News.

“Women reproduce. In my country when calves do that, sheep do that, cow and buffalo do that, goats do that, it’s a value and they add it in agricultural accounts. When women do it (it might be hard labour) but they are unproductive,” said Marilyn.

“Women produce the most important food in this planet – lactation. The most important investment in the future of humans is ensuring their access to safe lactation,” she said.

Looking after children, the elderly and the household are not contributing to the GDP and (men) are competitively charging around about ‘my GDP is bigger than his GDP’,” she added sarcastically.

Marilyn called Gross Domestic Product (GDP) a myth and termed it as ‘Greatly Deluded Propaganda’.

Agreeing with Marilyn, Subhalakshmi Nandi, gender equality expert based in India said, “All women work, and all women are workers,” and added that everyone needs to shun the implicit biases.

She also said that women need to organise themselves to be more assertive.

Marilyn said that GDP establishes a boundary of production and outside the boundary the unpaid work overwhelmingly done by women are always side-lined.

“Of course, alternative to the GDP does exist. It is ‘Time Use’,” she said and added that we need to focus on ‘Time Use’ which is immutable.”

Highlighting that no one can have more than 24 hours a day, she said that the concept informs us who does the most work and where does time poverty occur, and how do the resources need to be redistributed.

“The things stopping change from coming is vested interest and lack of political will of the nation state. Trillions of dollars run through tax havens. Even the most powerful understands that current economic model based on GDP is not going to work. The time has come when we must do away with this ‘Grossly Deluded Propaganda’ and work for a better future,” she said.

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