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Italian women - underpaid and undervalued?

Women work more than men for less money!

Despite this being a general truth almost everywhere on the planet, in Italy the number of hours women work more than men is quite significant.

As it was diffused by the last OECD report on welfare, Italian women work altogether almost 11 hours a week more than men, but if we consider also the unpaid hours dedicated to the family 36.1 hours are not paid. 

Italy ranks first among the 34 OECD countries for difference between men and women in the distribution of unpaid work, clearly ahead of France (12.6 unpaid hours more for women), Great Britain (12.2 hours more), USA (9.5 hours) and Germany (6.6 hours). Yet, according to OECD data, the time dedicated to unpaid work by Italian women has fallen by almost two hours a week compared to the first years of 2000, while that of men rose by more than an hour.

According to the organization's data, updated to 2010, an Italian woman works on average 58.6 hours a week, and  a man 47.7 but for women, almost two-thirds of these (36.1 hours) are dedicated to unpaid work, care of children and the elderly, household cleaning, cooking and other work related to home and family, while only slightly more than 22 hours are paid .

The situation is completely different for men who are paid for 33 hours out of the 47 (nearly eleven more than women).

According to the report, this unequal division of domestic labour can have negative effects on the welfare of women in at least two ways. First, the responsibility for the work at home has a direct impact on women's decision to enter the labour market, and in the number of hours they can dedicate to it. In this way gender inequalities are reinforced.

Moreover, excessive loads of work for women with the double burden of having a job and taking care of the family can generate a lack of free time and stress, with negative effects on health.

Quite a difficult situation if we consider also the lack of part-time work or regular contracts with maternity cover, which very often force women to face an old and dramatic decision: family or work.

Giulia Lombardo

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