Responsibility of taking care of the children and the elderly at home is one of the main obstacles to women moving into better quality jobs, which in turn impacts their earning and social standing. According to a recent report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in India women spend 297 minutes per day on the care responsibilities, 9.6 times more than men. While men spend only 30 minutes to provide care for elderly and children at home, one of the lowest in Asia-Pacific.
Globally, the situation is not much different, where women perform 76.2 per cent of total of unpaid care work, three times as much as men. In Asia and the Pacific it rises to 80 per cent. In 2018, 49.5 per cent of women in Asia-Pacific declared that they cannot work or are not looking for a job due to unpaid care work. The time spent by women in unpaid care work increases with the presence of young children. Men in the same conditions are only 7.1 per cent. This rate is the second highest after the Arab States.
At this pace, it will take 210 years to close the gender gap in unpaid care work in these countries. The glacial rate of these changes calls into question the effectiveness of past and current policies in addressing the extent and division of unpaid care work over the past two decades," said Shauna Olney, Chief of the Gender, Equality and Diversity and ILOAIDS Branch of the ILO. The numbers corroborate the fact that within our societies men are still seen as breadwinners, while the women's primary role is to take care of the family.
Penalty for motherhood
In Asia and the Pacific, there is a "motherhood employment penalty" for women living with young children. This contrasts with a "fatherhood employment premium", with fathers reporting the highest employment-to-population ratios throughout the world.
Mothers of children aged under 6 years suffer the highest "employment penalty" that is the lowest employment rates with only 47.6 per cent of them in jobs. But it seems Indian women are paying the highest penalty.
According a World Bank report in 2011, 19.6 million women fell off the labour map in India. In fact, according to the Economic Survey 2017-18, India in South Asia has the lowest number of women participating in the workforce.
"The global prominence of nuclear families and single-headed households, and the growth of women's employment in certain countries increase the demand for care workers. If not addressed properly, current deficits in care work and its quality will create a severe and unsustainable global care crisis and further increase gender inequalities in the world of work" said Laura Addati, lead author of the report.
If more women are to be added to the workforce, the report suggests that investments in the care economy needs to be doubled to avert a looming global care crisis. Sweeping changes in policies should address the rising need for care and tackle the huge disparity between women's and men's care responsibilities.
ILO estimates that if investment in care service provision does not increase by at least 0.5 percentage points of global GDP by 2030 from the current 6.4 per cent of global GDP (as of 2015), deficits in coverage will increase and the working conditions of care workers will deteriorate.