Speaking with Riane on this podcast episode is a real privilege, and we are only able to cover a tiny fragment of her work.
Having fled Nazi Germany as a child refugee, Riane's work has been centred around one of the fundamental questions of any society. How can humans, that have such an enormous capacity for caring, be also able to perform unspeakable cruelty. Riane made it her mission to study and write about the need for a structural change to our social, economic, linguistic systems to be more equal, and based on partnership, rather than be set-up around domination.
Dr. Eisler is internationally known for her bestseller The Chalice and The Blade: Our History, Our Future, now in 26 foreign editions, including most European languages and Chinese, Russian, Korean, Hebrew, Japanese, Urdu, and Arabic. Her book, The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics– hailed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu as
“a template for the better world we have been so urgently seeking,”
Peter Senge as “desperately needed,” Gloria Steinem as “revolutionary,” and Jane Goodall as “a call for action” – proposes a new economics that gives visibility and value to the most essential human work: the work of caring for people and nature.
Why is it, that nursery teachers and early childhood professionals have to go on strike to draw attention to their low wages? Why did Kitas close in Germany in 2016 for Industrial Action? What does this say about how our society values care for children? And the same goes for the elderly, who are either isolated, in institutions suffering neglect and abuse, or if the family can, paying exorbitant amounts of money for quality private care.
One of the roadblocks in valuing care and carework is the lack of a unique indicator that can demonstrate this value. Slowly, but surely a number of long-term research efforts are starting to demonstrate the return on investment in early childhood care, and it emerges that every 1$ invested in quality formal early childhood programmes may return 2-4$ and have a positive impact on at least 1 development outcome.
But caring for children and elderly at home and even caring for the planet remains a very polarising topic, with different interest groups hijacking bits of the available information - mainly, again, due to the lack of comprehensive, comparable data.
Introducing the "GDP" for Caring
The conventional assumption has been that a strong economy and caring for people and nature are at odds. Social Wealth Economic Indicators (SWEIs) demolish that assumption. SWEIs show the benefits of investing in care, and the dismal consequences of devaluing it - not only for women (who still do most of the care work), children, the elderly, families, and the natural environment, but also for economic competitiveness.
Social Wealth Economic Indicators are the missing metrics needed to empower women and girls, reduce the disproportionate poverty of women and communities of colour, and, at the same time, strengthen the economy.
New world of work from a gender perspective
The number of articles about robots and AI replacing jobs and tasks have been relentless in the past year. However, only a few articles have tackled the vitally important issue of how AI and algorithms work, and if they are programmes to mirror the current status quo, of one group clearly having the upper hand over the other, then AI and robots will perpetuate gender inequalities.
As Riane tells in the podcast, gendered values are still a taboo topic in most societies, even among American young people it is seldom discussed.
It is now more urgent than ever to redress the imbalances and inequalities and complement the rise of women in work and leadership with the opportunity for men to embrace that part of their human potential, that has been silenced for a long time, and rebuild caring based on the principles of partnership.