Women work an average of four years longer than men in a lifetime, new figures reveal.
And it’s time spent on housework and caring for kids and elderly relatives that’s behind the worldwide disparity, according to ActionAid.
Now the charity is calling on governments and men – the fathers, brothers, sons and husbands – to do their bit to make women’s work fairer for everyone.
“Women’s labour – in and outside the home – is vital to sustainable development and for the wellbeing of society. Without the subsidy it provides, the world economy would not function. Yet it is undervalued and for the most part invisible,” says ActionAid head Girish Menon.
The finding is part of the charity’s research into how countries plan to meet promises to tackle inequality made in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The report, Not Ready, Still Waiting, will be presented at the United Nations General Assembly next week.
It highlights the weight of unpaid care work on women, which is limiting women’s opportunities to go after paid work, be part of critical decision-making moments, and enjoy leisure time.
Girish, ActionAid UK’s chief executive, tells The Guardian they are calling on governments to redress the balance, especially in developing countries where women are at a greater disadvantage.
“We do not mean to suggest that all unpaid work, including unpaid care work, should be remunerated, or to ascribe a monetary value to unpaid care, which includes what we believe to be intrinsically invaluable activities, such as loving and nurturing children and family,” Girish says.
“Rather, ActionAid believes women’s unpaid work should be recognised, reduced and redistributed – between women and men, and between the household and the state.
This ActionAid video on Youtube highlights the gender inequality.
The report claims inequality faced by women won’t stop until their “vastly disproportionate levels of unpaid care work are recognised, reduced and redistributed”.