Salwa El Antari, PhD, and Nefissa El Dessouki: Unpaid Labor of Women: Working for the Family in the Informal Economy of Egypt, the New Woman Foundation, Cairo, 2016
The importance of this research stems in the scarcity of attempts to identify reasons, conditions, and expectations of women working without remuneration in the context of the family in Egypt. Such areas are often ignored or even unrecognized. Therefore, the research falls within the New Woman Foundation constant efforts to valorize women’s economic contribution at all levels of the Egyptian society in order to reach a public acknowledgement of this value, and contribute in improving the current status of women and work.
The research is composed of five chapters in addition to the introduction. The first chapter examines women’s work in the informal economy through the trends concerned with the integration of informal projects in the national economy as well as the reasons behind the prevalence of informal economy in the labor market. It also considers the working relations compared with the fair work conditions.
The second chapter exposes the size of unpaid women’s labor inside the family and the main demographic features of this type of labor while the third chapter presents the fields of activities conducted by these women as well as the level of satisfaction among them. In the fourth chapter, researchers attempted to identify the self-perception of women working for the family, the extent of their participation in decision-making, their status regarding freedom (or absence) of mobility, and their attitudes towards physical violence. All over these chapters, findings were backed by true experiences of women. Finally, the study ended with a series of recommendations based on the socio-economic analysis of the phenomenon in both rural and urban settings, pointing out to the areas of interventions required from the feminist movement, Civil Society Organizations, political parties and parliamentarians.
Actually, literature related to the economic empowerment of women confirm the importance of paid labor as a main requisite for the economic autonomy of women favoring their contribution in the public life and enhancing consequently their participation in decision-making either at the political level, in the field of work or in the domestic area. While researchers found (according to the official data) that the rate of unpaid workers within families in Egypt does not exceed 0,3%, they came to the conclusion that the phenomenon is mainly limited to the informal economy and thus lacks consistent information; therefore they had to rely on very scarce data, mainly on that provided by the Egyptian Labor Market Panel Survey (ELMPS) of 2012.