Globally, 45 percent women are employed, far less than their male counterparts -- 71 percent. This gender gap can be reduced by redistribution of unpaid care work and setting up facilities to provide care services, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Women find it difficult to manage time to work outside home that would pay them because they take bigger share of domestic responsibilities, caring for children and elderly members of their families, ILO said in its latest survey report released last Thursday. Social norms dictate women's role as unpaid caregiver while men's as breadwinner, the report added.
It is witnessed that countries investing more in care services have more women in the labour force. However, the traditional belief is creating gender wage gaps there. Women receive low pay in care services since such work is “undervalued”.
“It [care services] mirrors work which has traditionally been carried out by women in the home without pay or simply because it is work performed by women,” said the report.
While women spend 4 hours and 25 minutes on an average per day doing unpaid care work, men spend 1 hour and 23 minutes.
“The imbalanced division of work within the households between men and women is one of the most resilient features of gender inequality,” the report said. It is estimated that the time women spend on housework and caregiving has reduced by only 15 minutes a day from 1997 to 2012, while for men it increased by just eight minutes. At this pace, the gender gap in time spent on unpaid care work would take 209 years to close.
The survey was aimed at finding more about gender gaps in the world of work and why they exist. It ruled out the popular notion that “women do not want to work or do not find work meaningful”.
About 606 (21.7 percent) million working age women perform unpaid care work on a full-time basis, compared to 41 million men (1.5 percent). Public investment in infrastructure -- like clean water, safe cooking fuel, electricity; social protection and care services would encourage redistribution of unpaid care work and while doing so it will create decent jobs, especially for women.
It is predicted that an increase in investment in care services to achieve Sustainable Development Goals would create 120 million more jobs in the care economy and 149 million indirect jobs in non-care sectors by 2030.
To achieve the goal, the current levels of public and private investment (proportionate to GDP) in the care sectors need to be doubled along with creation of decent work for paid care workers.
Overall the solution lies in the “5R Framework for Decent Care Work” proposed by the ILO -- recognise, reduce, and redistribute unpaid care work, and reward, represent care workers.