“A woman’s place is in the home”? Unbelievably our constitution in Ireland still says this and needs to change. But it highlights a reality for many women in Ireland and globally. Shockingly, on average women spend nearly four and a half hours each day doing unpaid care work, compared to around one and a half hours for men.
Caring activities such as childminding, caring for elderly relatives cooking and cleaning are essential to maintaining our societies. But the huge imbalance in how this work is divided means that women and girls can be blocked from getting an education, working outside the home, participating in political decision making or having any leisure time.
Around the world the scale of unpaid labour that women and girls are responsible for traps them in poverty – and this labour is completely invisible in any national data.
Did you know?
606 million working-age women perform unpaid care work on a full-time basis, compared to 41 million men.
As a result of the volume of unpaid care work carried by women, women are more likely to live in poverty than men and are less likely to be in paid employment than men.
Ireland has the third highest weekly hours of unpaid work for both men and women across the EU28, reflecting the low State involvement in support for caring.
In Ireland, on average women spend double the time of men on caring work and more than twice as much time on other housework.
Women perform 76.2% of total hours of unpaid care work, more than three times as much as men, and in Asia and the Pacific this rises to 80%.
Over a lifetime this means women are working an average of four years more than men.
What’s a care diary?
We use care diaries in our local programmes around the world to support women to show and value the enormous burden of care that they face, including in our Irish Aid funded women’s rights programme.
Are you curious about who carries out the most unpaid care activities in your home? You can download our free care diary here so that you can track how much time you and other people in your home spend on care next week.
To use the diary, print a copy for every adult in your home. Over the course of one week track how many hours you and other adults spend on caring activities such as cooking, washing clothes, cleaning and caring for children, then compare the results at the end of the week.
You can use the diary to support you to balance the workload in your own home and share the diary to showcase the huge imbalance of care worldwide.
Sign-up to download your free Care Diary today
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Care Diaries in Action
Parbati and her husband, Khadka, live with their three children in the Doti region of Nepal. It is a very poor area where women undertake unpaid care activities for up to 18 hours a day, taking care of children and elderly people, feeding the cattle, growing crops, washing clothes, and fetching drinking water and firewood.
Parabati used the care diary to show the huge burden of work that she faced on a daily basis, which before this was not recorded anywhere and was not at all valued by her husband. After using the diary she told us: “My husband realised that my workload was three times more than his and it was also affecting my health. It really had a positive impact in our lives and my husband gradually started to support me in the household chores.”
The diaries also helped ActionAid identify the community’s most pressing needs. We then were able to advocate with the region for improving public services. As a result, the care diaries and as a result, in the region we set up two community childcare centres, two drinking water taps closer to the women’s homes, a rice mill and a thresher machine.