MEN have been encouraged to assist their women counterparts in the provision of unpaid care work to ensure a smooth running of the home.
Unpaid care work refers to all non-market, unpaid activities carried out in households – including both direct care of persons, such as children or elderly, and indirect care, such as cooking, cleaning or fetching water, amongst others.
According to the UN Women, an agency of the global body championing gender equality, unpaid care work contributes between 10 and 39 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product of countries; more than manufacturing, commerce or transportation sectors in some cases.
The agency further adds that “women carry out at least two and a half times more unpaid care work than men”.
This means that whilst women spend an average of 4:11hours giving unpaid care in 23 developing countries daily, their men counterparts spend 1:31hours doing same.
In 23 developed countries, however, the statistics show that women spend 3:30 hours compared to the 1:54 hours of men involvement in unpaid care work.
At a National Dialogue in Accra yesterday on how Ghana could scale up the involvement of men in unpaid care work to ‘free’ the women to realise their potentials, participants said the cultural orientation that women are supposed to deliver care at home must be changed.
Organised by ActionAid Ghana, the local chapter of a global movement of people working together to further human rights for all and end poverty, the forum was on the theme: ‘Recognise, Reduce and Redistribute Unpaid Work: Women’s Labour Count’.
The Project Coordinator, Azumi Mesuna, said: “For women living in poverty, their disproportionate responsibility for unpaid work can prevent them from accessing other opportunities and enjoying their rights.”
To address this, Ms Mesuna said it was important government put in place systems such as the provision of child care centres, water harvesting structures and healthcare centres, to ensure that the “burden” of care giving on the woman is reduced.
“ActionAid is basically calling for a change of attitudes and perceptions about care work. Normalising it as women and girls work is what we are [campaigning against] and not to be paid in cash for giving care.
“We are calling for the involvement of all stakeholders [through policy implementations which cuts across our gender policies] because the positives and analysis for unpaid care work benefits the entire society and the nation at large,” Ms Mesuna said.
The Deputy Director of Gender, Reproduction and Social Policy at the National Development Planning Commission, Madam Mary Mpereh, said the significance of unpaid care work to the development of the country could not be overlooked, though the country does not have statistics to ascertain its contribution to the economy.
There are several incidental national policies, which she said, may contribute towards the recognition, reduction and redistribution of unpaid care work, but they might have minimal transformational impacts because they work in silos.
In this regard, Madam Mpereh urged ActionAid to put all the policies in a coherent policy framework, pilot their implementation and present same to the relevant state agencies for action.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI