Unpaid Care Work

Unpaid care work, according to OECD, refers to all unpaid services provided within a household for its members, including care of persons, housework and voluntary community work. These activities are considered work because theoretically, one could pay a third person to perform them.

According to McKinsey, women do 75% of the world’s total unpaid care work. But much of this work is not included in GDP calculations.

Need for recognition of unpaid care work

Mis-estimation of Economic activity: Non-inclusion of unpaid care work in national accounting statistics like GDP grossly misestimates the level of economic activity.

Female Labour Participation: The burden of unpaid care work on women limits their skill development and employment opportunities. This resulted in a low level of female labour participation.

Wage Gap: often domestic care work by women is treated as unproductive and it is reflected in low wages for women in the labour market when compared to men.

Challenges in calculating Unpaid labour work

  • Care work is often not considered ‘work’ and hence respondents are less likely to report time spent on care.
  • Variation and seasonality of work are also difficult to capture.

Measures to address inequality

  • Investment in time-saving technologies and infrastructure like electrification, improved access to water, public transport etc.
  • Better access to public services like childcare and care for the elderly.
  • Provision of maternity benefits to informal sector labour.
  • Equal amounts of maternity and paternity leaves.
  • Tackling entrenched social norms and gender stereotypes can ‘defeminise’ caregiving.

So, the right combination of policy interventions and attitudinal changes will not only unleash the potential of women’s contribution to the economy but also achieves gender justice.

Quantifying Women’s Work in GDP Women play a very important role in households, but their contribution is not a part of the GDP calculation and hence goes unnoticed or rather not quantified This is because it is very difficult to quantify the work done by women. In contemporary society, working women are facing double exploitation because they are forced to do the household work even after working at home. This quantification of women’s work is important for them to gain recognition, and for their roles to be given more importance. If this cannot be quantified, then at least there needs to be more value given to their work.

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