Who cares? We do, we care. We women, men, children, and the society all together. If not us, then who? Achieving gender equality requires the engagement of women and men, girls, and boys. It is everyone’s responsibility.
The Federal Republic of Germany, in its role as the G7 president, joined the UN Women and the International Labour Organization (ILO) on 7th April 2022 at a high-level conference focusing on care work in international development cooperation. Speakers from all around the world shared their diverse yet connected stories and experiences as women in their different niches. The forum on a comprehensive approach to Recognize, Reduce and Redistribute unpaid care work, and to increase the Reward and Representation of paid care workers (the “5Rs of care”).
“Women and girls in all their diversity carry out disproportionate shares of paid and unpaid care and domestic work. Globally, on average, women and girls spend three times more time providing care than men and boys. It is estimated that this adds up to a total of seven more years of unpaid care and domestic work performed by women in comparison to men over the course of their lifetimes.’ The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated existing gendered inequalities in unpaid and paid care work. This is holding back both gender-transformative change and sustainable economic development. Thus, the urgent need for a gender-just transformation of the care economy.” -G7 report.
The IOE Regional Vice President for Africa- Jacqueline Mugo participated in the panel discussions alongside, the Minister of Community Development, Gender, Women, and Special Groups, Tanzania- Dorothy Gwajima; the General Secretary, ITUC- Sharan Burrow and the Global Lead for Early Childhood Development, World Bank- Amanda E. Devercelli.
In Africa, women perform 76.2% of total hours of care work, more than three times that of men which means employed women have a great load of care responsibilities. The unequal distribution of care responsibilities between women and men within the household translates to unequal opportunities of participation in the labour market. The higher the inequality the higher the gender gaps in labour force participation.
"Efforts have been ongoing in bringing gender equality and equity in the establishment of ministries responsible for gender both in Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar. Considering the existing challenges, the government intends to double its efforts to achieve the vision of gender equality as laid out in the Tanzania Development Vision 2025. The United Republic of Tanzania (URT) realizes that gender equality and equity is of paramount importance in bringing about meaningful, inclusive, and sustainable development, " stated Hon. Dorothy Gwajima, Tanzanian Minister for Community Development, Gender, Women & Special Groups
Employers face challenges regarding the subject matter, such as performance challenges in cases where women with family responsibilities are more likely to work shorter hours as compared to adult men thus affecting the quality of work and enterprise productivity. Due to weak health systems and social protection, employers find themselves digging deeper into their funds to create mother friendly environments by providing creche facilities and or providing maternity cover to bridge the gaps through private insurance. Employers are opening spaces for discussions on Gender and Inclusivity issues at the enterprise level.
“We have seen improved maternity provisions, building capacity of women to rise the corporate ladder, conscious decision to hire more women, among others. This culture is an area of competition where best practices are recognized and rewarded. The Federation of Kenya Employers, through the Employers of the Year Awards Ceremony, recognizes enterprises that have embraced inclusivity both on gender and disability,” noted Ms Jacqueline Mugo, the IOE Regional Vice President for Africa, who also hold the position of the Secretary General at Business Africa Employers’ Confederation.
There is a lot of potential to improve and contribute to transforming the care economy. All stakeholders need to come together to work on policies that address the rising need for care work and tackle the huge disparity between women’s and men’s care responsibilities. The society and policy makers can expand the capabilities and choices of women and men. This will reduce the gender gaps more so in the labour and economic sectors. To achieve such a society, it is important that we constantly create awareness and sensitize on the value of social and economic contributions of caregiving.