UNPAID CARE WORK

Women spend 5 hours, men just 1 on chores

Unpaid care work contributes to about 13% of global GDP, but it remains unrecognised.

In Summary
  • Women have greater childcare responsibilities due to gendered roles.  
  • Kenyan women earn Sh68 for every Sh100 paid to men according to the Global Gender Report 2017.
Children watch as a woman uses her bare hands to dig the ground in search of water along Cheptoriot River, Baringo North subcounty, on February 18, 2018.
Children watch as a woman uses her bare hands to dig the ground in search of water along Cheptoriot River, Baringo North subcounty, on February 18, 2018.
Image: JOSEPH KANGOGO

Women in slum areas will spend four more hours than men today doing household chores. 

The chores include taking care of the elderly, cooking, cleaning or fetching water, the latest Oxfarm household survey shows.

The report states women on average spend about five hours a day on primary care compared to about an hour for men. 

 

In the survey, primary care work entails the number of hours spent on unpaid care work as a primary activity the previous day while any care is the number of hours spent on unpaid care work as either a primary or secondary activity. 

 
 

Any care factors the extent of responsibilities that may be 'invisible' such as leaving food cooking while tending to farm animals, supervising children while watching television or supervising children while selling products in the market.

The survey was conducted between October 2018 and March 2019 in five informal settlements in Nairobi—Kibera, Mathare, Mukuru, Kawangware and Korogcho.

A total of 328 women, 42 men and 93 children (48 male and 45 female) took part in the study. 

 "Furthermore, women's time spent on any care took up a significant proportion of their day, more than triple that of men, with women reporting 11.1 hours per day for any care compared to 2.9 hours per day for men," reads the report. 

It found that overall women had greater childcare responsibilities than men and were over 20 per cent more likely than men to have been responsible for looking after a child 24 hours before the survey. 

According to the World Bank, despite unpaid care work contributing to about 13 per cent of global GDP, it remains largely invisible, unrecognised and absent from public policies. 

 

The inequality in unpaid care and domestic work also reflects in wage employment, where Kenyan women earn Sh68 for every Sh100 paid to men according to the Global Gender Report 2017.

"Women and girls greater responsibilities for unpaid care work results in opportunity costs that can hinder their ability to enjoy their rights and freedoms to decent work, education, health, rest and leisure," reads the report. 

Further, the unequal distribution between women and men contributes to gender inequality by limiting women's opportunities for economic empowerment and political participation. 

For instance, men spend almost double the time that women spend at work. A man will spend about 10.5 hours a day at work compared to a woman who will spend about 5.3 hours a day at work. 

"Women and men spent roughly equal time on leisure and sleep with women reporting spending 11.7 hours compared to 12 hours for men," read the report.

"Thus while men spent half of their day on leisure, women's days were much longer due to their long hours on unpaid care."

Due to the imbalance in responsibilities allocated over a similar period of time, women can miss out on opportunities to engage in paid work, community, and political life, education and self-care. 

The survey found that factors such as age and number were not significant in affecting time spent on unpaid care work for either men or women. 

"When considering women's marital status, the study found that married women reported more time spent on any care responsibilities than single women," reads the report.