Generations of Work Without Pay

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

28/08/2018. Kampala, Uganda –Oxfam and partner Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET) has today launched a report showing the ways in which the unpaid care and domestic workload on women keeps them poor and perpetuates inequality over generations. According to the report, women spend 8hours daily on domestic and unpaid care work compared to men who spend only four hours.

Carried out in the districts of Kaabong, Kabale and Kampala, the report titled Gender roles and the care economy in Uganda households indicates that women are socialised to accept the unpaid care workload from childhood- at the expense of their health, happiness and economic prospects. This research report was carried out together with Makerere University School of Women and Gender Studies and Economic Policy Research Centre.

“When Oxfam in Uganda launched its first inequality report last year, titled “Who is Growing?” We spoke about the ways in which gender inequality drives other social and economic inequalities. In this research we launch today, we speak specifically about the way in which leaving the unpaid workload to women keeps them poor over generations,” said Vincent Koch, the Interim Country Director of Oxfam in Uganda.

Unpaid care work has been recognized as a women rights, economic and equality issue in the Global Agenda 2030 under social development Goal 5 which, under target 5.4, exclusively calls upon countries to:

“Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate.”

The report presents an analysis of the links between social norms, the division of work for males and females, as well as time patterns in daily care work taking into consideration the rural/urban divide. It found that at childhood, girls spend 4.8 hours a day on unpaid care and domestic work while boys spend 3.8 hours. The care workload reduces for boys, as they get older while for girls it increases. This leaves girls with less time for leisure and school work.

What we then see is that men have more time to spend on economic activities than women and this perpetrates poverty and inequality between men and women. Already, 50 percent of women are employed in the three lowest paying sectors of the economy- domestic work, agriculture, mining and quarrying. Most of those classified as the poor and vulnerable are women. About 60 percent of the women interviewed earn les than 50,000 shillings from the limited time they get to do paid work.

With over half of the population being shackled with unpaid care and domestic work, Uganda will not be able to reach her development goals, according to Oxfam who also argue that countries where there is more gender parity develop faster.

“As Oxfam and partners, women are at the centre of our work. We are cognisant of the fact that you cannot speak about development, about ending inequality, if you do not address the specific issues affecting women. Countries where men and women have equal opportunities develop faster and changing women’s lives and wellbeing is, indeed, a change in the entire national economy,” Koch said.

Oxfam, during the report launch that also marked the official kick off of their #FreeWomensHands #ShareCareWork campaign, called upon government to increase investments to the key sectors of health, education and agriculture. They believe that investments- that are alive to the ways in which patriarchy has left women at the periphery of society- in these pro-poor sectors would lead to reducing women’s unpaid domestic and carework load. Oxfam and partners also call for the value of women’s unpaid work documented in national statistics and call upon government to embark on a nation-wide campaign to change attitudes about women’s gender and care roles. According to Oxfam, these steps will go along way in bring more recognition to women’s unpaid care and domestic work, reducing and redistributing it.

“Globally, women’s unpaid care work contributes 10 trillion USD. This is nearly as much as China, the second biggest economy in the world contributes.” Koch added.

The launch convened over seventy representatives from Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Development Partners, the private sector, Civil Society, academia, and human rights defenders.

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