If the unpaid work done by women was carried out by a company, it would out-profit Apple.

If all the unpaid care work done by women across the world was carried out by a single company, it would have an annual turnover of US $10 trillion an amount equivalent to a turnover 43 times that of Apple, the world’s biggest company.

Let’s first put some context around this staggering figure, revealed by Oxfam last month as part of a paper that has brought into sharp focus the persistent economic divide that sees the rich continue to get richer while driving extreme poverty and global unrest.

Oxfam’s report, Public Good or Private Wealth, found inequality has climbed to dangerous new heights both here in Australia and abroad.

Oxfam Australia’s analysis of inequality in the context of our own nation found another record number of Australian billionaires, mostly men, increased their wealth to $160 billion last year – making a combined $100 million a day last year. The $36 billion spike in the total wealth of this privileged group of just 43 people in just one year is enough to fund about half the Australian Government’s total health budget this financial year. In Australia, the top one per cent continue to own more wealth than the bottom 70 per cent of all other citizens combined.

Watch: The two-letter word that connects women and girls everywhere. Post continues after video.

Across the world, inequality is out of control. In the past 10 years since the global financial crisis we’ve seen the number of billionaires nearly double worldwide, with a new billionaire created every two days between 2017 and 2018. Some 26 individuals now own about as much as the poorest half of humanity, which is about 3.8 billion people, yet wealthy individuals and corporations are paying some of the lowest rates of tax in decades.

By under taxing the wealthiest in society, governments the world over are helping to fuel an inequality crisis and depriving public coffers of vital services such as healthcare and education.

Every day, 10,000 people die because they lack access to affordable health care. In developing countries, a child from a poor family is twice as likely to die before the age of five than a child from a rich family. If multinational companies were paying their fair share of taxes around the globe, at least of some these billions could go to the crucial public services needed to address these tragic statistics.


Poor women and girls get hit hardest by this lack of investment having to care for children, the sick and elderly when public services fail.

What the research also tells us time and again is that, disproportionately, it is women and girls propping up the same economies that fail to reward them collectively they are spending millions of hours performing unpaid work each year.

In Australia, women still get paid less than men, accumulate less wealth and continue to face greater economic disadvantage.

For every dollar earned by an Australian man, an Australian woman will earn 85 cents, while the gender pay gap favours men in every single industry. Women are not paid superannuation during maternity leave, and one study has shown that on average women retire with about half the amount of super as men.

Employed women also have more unpaid care responsibilities, which takes time away from paid work. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 65 per cent of Australian women do more than five hours of unpaid work a week, while 60 per cent of men do less than 5 hours. By at least one international estimate, unpaid work – most of which is contributed to by women – in Australia is valued at 41 per cent of our GDP.

In Australia, an updated and reinstated Women’s Budget Statement could be used to better analyse and inform the impact of budgetary decisions on gender equality, such as the inclusion of more family-friendly policies that promote better work-family life balance for both parents.

The statement should disaggregate groups of Australian women to create a more informed picture of specific budget impacts, such as for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women from different socio-economic groups, migrant women and women from rural and remote areas.

Freeing up women’s time and easing the burden of unpaid care work should be a key objective of any government’s spending – this can be achieved by increasing investment in public services and childcare that reduce the time needed to do unpaid work.

The Australian Government should also make multinational company tax more transparent by requiring public country-by-country reporting. Companies operating from Australia should be required to publish their profits, taxes and assets for every country in which they operate, so it’s harder for them to shift profits and dodge taxes.

People the world over want change. They want governments to ensure corporations and wealthy few pay their fair share of tax, and they want this money invested in the public services that do the greatest good – including for the women and girls who contribute so much to their communities.

Dr Helen Szoke is the CEO of Oxfam Australia.