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

Tents at the Rutgers University in NJ during the Palestine encampment in May, 2024

What the Movement for Palestine Can Learn from the Rutgers Encampment Deal

The Gaza solidarity encampment at Rutgers New Brunswick ended in a deal between the administration and a negotiations team at the camp. It’s been a highly controversial decision. The experience at Rutgers shows the need for a truly democratic, bottom-up fight for Palestine.

Jason Koslowski

May 17, 2024
A banner at the City College Encampment in NYC which reads: "The 5 demands: 1) Divest 2) Boycott 3) Solidarity 4) Demilitarize 5) A People's CUNY

Specters of Vietnam in the pro-Palestinian Movement

The reemergence of the student movement raises echoes of the past that help to articulate key aspects of the direction of the movement against the genocide in Palestine. Here we consider a few links between today and the movement against the war in Vietnam.

Daniel Alfonso

May 12, 2024

The Student Revolt for Palestine

The student revolt for Palestine in the United States is spreading throughout the world. It is essential that the student movement unites against repression and draws the masses into the fight for a free Palestine.

Jimena Vergara

May 6, 2024

Left Voice Magazine for April 2024 — Labor Notes Edition!

In this issue, we delve into the state and future of the labor movement today. We take a look at the prospects for Palestinian liberation through the lens of Leon Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution, and discuss the way that Amazon has created new conditions of exploitation and how workers across the world are fighting back.

Left Voice

April 20, 2024


Two large signs that read "UC Divest from Genocide" and "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" behind the two signs a "UAW on Strike sign" pokes out

Dispatch from Day 2 of the UC Santa Cruz Picket Line

Left Voice member and City University of New York worker Olivia reports on the second day of her trip to Santa Cruz for UAW 4811’s historic strike to talk to workers.

Olivia Wood

May 25, 2024

Why Won’t PSC-CUNY Stand with Palestine Now?

While other higher education unions are going on strike in defense of their workers and against the genocide in Gaza, the bureaucratic leadership of PSC-CUNY just crushed a resolution calling on the university to divest from Israel and to drop the charges against Palestinian activists arrested on April 30. 

James Dennis Hoff

May 24, 2024

Attack on Pro-Palestinian Protestors at UMich Latest Example of Democrats Defending Israel’s Genocide in Gaza

Capitalist apologists from the Democratic Party have chosen their business partners in Israel’s far-right government over Palestinian lives. In Ann Arbor, those same so-called “progressive” Democrats decided to bring felony charges against protestors earlier this week, encouraging harsh police violence against the University of Michigan encampment.

Ryan McCarty

May 24, 2024
Activists in Detroit speaking at a press conference condemning repression of the pro-Palestine movement on May 20, 2024.

Detroit Activists Hold Press Conference to Condemn Repression of Pro-Palestine Protesters

Detroit Will Breathe organized a press conference to discuss the police violence and repression against pro-Palestine protesters. The movement must stand in solidarity and unite to combat the increase of repression.

Kyle Thibodeau

May 23, 2024