Reimagining feminism on International Women’s Day

Capitalism not only creates the conditions for wage theft and precarious labour but – through patriarchy as a mutually reinforcing process – it also defines what can even be characterized as labour and ties human worth to wage-labour productivity. Single mothers become marginalized as “unemployed” and “uncontributing” when they are in fact, as scholar Silvia Frederici observes, reproducing labour power as a key source of capitalist accumulation. Because reproductive labour has been naturalized as women’s unpaid work, it has provided an immense subsidy to capitalism. According to figures by economist Raj Patel in The Value of Nothing, women’s unpaid work is estimated at $11-$15 trillion, which is more than half the world’s entire economic output! Reproductive justice movements, therefore, challenge the assumption that the only valuable labour is that which can be commodified and sold on the market. The greatest transformative potentials of feminism lie in the valuing of relational work that sustains our communities and manifests our responsibilities to each other: care work, land stewardship, and emotional labour. By rejecting the dominant model of competition, domination, commodification, and isolation, these forms of labour inherently challenge male, cisgendered, ableist and capitalist supremacy.

Harsha Walia in Reimagining feminism on International Women’s Day (