While most professionals dealt with the challenges that come with working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, women employees seemed to have a steeper challenge. As lockdowns forced everyone to stay indoors, women had to take an added -- and significant -- responsibility: child care. So uneven was the division of work that women ended up spending 173 additional hours doing unpaid labour caring for children, while men only did 59 hours.
According to a study released by poverty non-profit Center for Global Development on Friday, the gap was wider in low- and middle-income countries, where women spent three times as many hours as men did to care for children.
Children around the globe needed a collective 615 billion extra hours of care as they were left home. Women took on 75 per cent of the child care world in developing countries and over 65 per cent in wealthy countries. Women between the ages of 15 and 64 worked on an average 173 unpaid extra hours, which is more than a month of full-time work, as against men's 59 hours.
"Every year, year in year out, there are trillions of hours of unpaid care work being done, the considerable majority by women. We are not going to get to a world that sees gender equality until that burden is more evenly shared," said Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the centre.
Majority of the unpaid work happens in poorer countries where most children are, and where there is a wider gap between the unpaid work undertaken by men and women. In India, the study said, 176 billion hours of child care was added but women (360 hrs) took on 10 times more work than the men (33 hours). Uganda added 9 billion hours of child care, out of which per adult women took on 400 hours as against men who took on 360 hours. Pakistan added 28 billion hours, where hours per adult women stood at 390 as against 36 hours for men.
"For low- and middle-income countries as a whole, we estimate that the average of 124 days of school closures across countries led to 107 billion student-days of missed school, and preschool closures added 16 billion days. Assume that, due to closures, each child requires (only) 5 hours of additional care per day, that totals 615 billion hours-worth of unpaid childcare," said the study.
The Center for Global Development study took into consideration figures from UNESCO and the OECD to calculate the number of children at home and the average time men and women spent on unpaid childcare before the pandemic.
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