Report by ActionAid ahead of UN general assembly reveals burden of unpaid care work on women around the world

By  @byameliahill

A young woman entering the job market today can expect to do an average of four years more work than her male peers over her working lifetime, according to a report.

Time spent by women around the world on paid and unpaid labour amounts to an extra month for every year of work.

The charity ActionAid will present the report, Not Ready, Still Waiting, at the United Nations general assembly on Thursday.

Highlighting the global burden of unpaid care work on women, the report finds that a woman living in the UK can expect to do two and a half years more labour than her male peers over her working life.

The report warns that the burden of unpaid care work limits women’s opportunities to pursue income-generating options, to have their voices heard in decision-making and political activities, and for rest and leisure.

To redress the balance, ActionAid is calling for governments – especially in developing countries where women are more likely to be affected – to deliver quality public care services, pass equal pay and family-friendly workplace legislation and agree minimum living wages, among other solutions.

“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,” said Girish Menon, chief executive of ActionAid UK.

“Rather, ActionAid believes women’s unpaid work should be recognised, reduced and redistributed – between women and men, and between the household and the state.

“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.”


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