Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Capitalism and Patriarchy: As of Wednesday Morning, French Women Are Working for Free Due to Gender Pay Gap

Women in France are now working for free until the end of the year — because of wage inequalities between men and women. The increasing wage gap stems from the growing number of women in precarious jobs.

Cléo Rivierre

November 4, 2021
Facebook Twitter Share
pay gap men and women
Image: Ben Lacasse/The State Press

According to the feminist newsletter Les Glorieuses, women in France began working for free at 9:22 AM on Wednesday, November 3, and will do so until the end of the year, because of wage inequalities between men and women. The data from Eurostat, the European Statistics Office, reveals that the wage gap has become more pronounced in recent years. As Télérama magazine explains, “In 2018, the date of this symbolic halt to paying women was November 6. In 2019, it was November 5, and last year it was November 4. This year, it has moved up to November 3.” While there are several calculation methods, not all of which return the exact same result, there is no doubt that wage inequality persists in France.

Several factors explain the gap. The most obvious one is wage inequality for men and women in the same position at the same company. In France, the gap is 5 to 7 percent. In addition, women tend to have less access to positions of responsibility, which are better paid. But women also tend to work fewer hours, on average: according to Les Glorieuses, “Wage inequalities between women and men for the same amount of work are low at the beginning of working life, but they tend to increase throughout the professional career, especially after the arrival of the first child. Mothers bear a greater domestic burden than fathers, and so extended periods not working and reduced hours create an initial and ongoing gap in professional development.”

The types of jobs women and men hold is another factor. As the Yellow Vests movement highlighted, and then the pandemic health crisis, women are the majority of workers in a number of sectors that are both absolutely essential and absolutely despised — a contempt that is expressed in the form of very low wages. So many women work in the caring professions, including healthcare, childcare, and as nursing assistants, in other allied health jobs, as personal assistants, nannies, cleaners, and so on. Even though they often involve a considerable level of training, responsibility, and psychosocial risk, these positions are precarious and underpaid. 

The situation is a testament to how capitalism and patriarchy are interwoven. The patriarchal system presents the functions of care and upkeep as “natural” for women — thus making the work of these employees invisible. On top of that, the economic system based on the race for greater profit reinforces every mechanism aimed at paying employees as little as possible. The interaction of these two has created long-term, structural wage inequality between women and men.

In addition, racial inequalities as well as the discrimination of LGBTI people are two structural oppression mechanisms that aggravate the phenomenon of wage inequalities for the people concerned.

So how do we get out of this situation? In the long run, only a broad social movement will be able to put an end to it once and for all, by attacking the roots of capitalism and patriarchy in order to overthrow these two systems and replace them with a society without exploitation and oppression. And as of today, we must demand equal pay for men and women, in the public and private sectors; but also the revaluation of all salaries, with a 300€ increase in salary for all, as well as a minimum wage of 1800€ per month. These measures must be financed with the money of the big capitalists, whose profits continue to increase.

First published in French on November 4 in Révolution Permanente.

Translation by Scott Cooper

Facebook Twitter Share

Ideas & Debates

Toward a Revolutionary Socialist Network

In this article Warren Montag and Joseph Serrano respond to our call for a network for a working-class party for socialism. 

Warren Montag

September 27, 2023

China’s Rise, ‘Diminished Dependency,’ and Imperialism in Times of World Disorder

In this broad-ranging interview, originally published in LINKS, Trotskyist Fraction member Esteban Mercatante discusses how recent global shifts in processes of capital accumulation have contributed to China’s rise, the new (and old) mechanisms big powers use to plunder the Global South, and its implications for anti-imperialist and working-class struggles today.

Esteban Mercatante

September 22, 2023

What Is the Role of a “Green Card Soldier”? Interview with Sofya Aptekar

While both capitalist parties fight over diversity in the military, Sofya Aptekar’s new book, Green Card Soldier, looks at the experiences of immigrant soldiers in the U.S. military and how oppressed communities are used by the military to legitimize and expand empire.

Sam Carliner

August 22, 2023
All That's Left, the podcast from Left Voice.

#AllThatsLeftPod: Stalinism, Anti-Communism, and the Fate of the Soviet Union — An Interview with Doug Greene

In this episode, we interview author and historian Douglas Greene about his new book “Stalinism and the Dialectics of Saturn: Anticommunism, Marxism, and the Fate of the Soviet Union.”

Left Voice

August 14, 2023


The Deadliest Year for U.S.-Mexico Border Crossings Occurred during Biden’s Administration

The humanitarian crisis at the border was created by capitalism. Voting for a lesser evil won’t save the Latin American working class; it will take international, political and strategic solidarity across borders to build a combative immigrants’ rights movement.

Paul Ginestá

September 28, 2023

The Big Three Are Using Layoffs to Punish the UAW and Undermine the Strike

The Big Three are retaliating against the UAW by laying off thousands of its members at plants across the country. Defeating these attacks will require the self organization and mobilization of all the workers.

James Dennis Hoff

September 28, 2023
President Biden visits striking UAW workers in Michigan.

Biden’s Picket Line Visit Doesn’t Mean He Is On Our Side

President Biden’s visit to the UAW picket line shows the strength of the strike — and why it should remain independent from him and the Democrats.

Tatiana Cozzarelli

September 27, 2023

Scabs Will Not Pass: Defend the UAW Strike With Organized Grassroots Power

The Big Three are escalating their use of scabs. The rank and file are fighting back.

Jason Koslowski

September 27, 2023