Gender disparity related to unpaid household work: study

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The time young women and girls spend on unpaid household work contributes to the gender pay gap, according to a new study from the Universities of East Anglia (UEA), Birmingham and Brunel. Research shows that women’s later participation in employment is affected by the burden of this caregiving burden during childhood, thus adding to existing inequality gaps in the countries studied.

Women are taught from childhood to be good at household chores, so it is easier for their parents to find a good suitor for marriage. Household chores were never considered worthy of return. So women who have been unpaid workers at home are growing up to stop their careers or even their own lives for ages now.

This study“The Contribution of Girls’ Longer Hours in Unpaid Work to Gender Gaps in Young Adult Employment: Evidence from Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam,” was published in the Feminist Economics journal.

How are unpaid childhood chores related to the gender pay gap?

According to the research, the team looked at data from the Young Lives Project, a longitudinal cohort study of child poverty tracking the lives of 12,000 children from India, Ethiopia, Peru and Vietnam. Indian sample data are from the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. They analyzed the employment participation of children aged 8 to 22 in any paid work in any sector and their type of employment and salary.

According to a report published by UNICEFgirls aged five to fourteen spend 40% more time, or 160 million more hours per day, on unpaid household chores and collecting water and firewood than boys in their peers age.

The reports clearly show how girls are expected to be involved in housework and often prioritize it over their education and career. Finding time to go to school becomes a problem, leading them to drop out and ultimately be stuck at home their whole lives. Professor Fiona Carmichael, Professor of Labor Economics at Birmingham Business School, said: “Longer hours of unpaid domestic work which reduces girls’ study time may therefore limit their future lives by limiting opportunities for ‘use. This confirms that women’s burden of care for their largest share of domestic work begins in childhood.

Policy to tackle gender inequality in paid work must take into account unpaid work during childhood, said UEA’s Dr Nicholas Vasilakos. Investing in youth employment is at the heart of development agendas and would help countries achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of decent work for all by 2030.

At age 22, there was already a gender gap in employment participation (85.72% male versus 70.64% female). Moreover, the hourly wage of women at 1.46 USD/hour is significantly lower (p=0.001) than that of men at 1.77 USD/hour.

Domestic work is negatively linked to job quality – both types of jobs and earnings – said Dr Christian Darko, senior lecturer in applied business and labor economics at the University of Birmingham .

Professor Shireen Kanji, Professor of Human Resource Management at Brunel University London, said: “It appears that compared to men, women’s employment is likely to be driven more by lack of choice or need, and is characterized by fewer opportunities. for a well-paid and better job.

In a interview with SheThePeople, Navya Naveli Nanda shared how even at her house, when guests come to her house, her mother asks her to accommodate them and take care of their concerns, unlike her brother who might do the same but it is not expected that he does. Young women from privileged backgrounds are not confronted with the severity of the choice of their career or their family. Their parents have higher aspirations for them and so when they find jobs for themselves, the payment compared to their male counterparts has less of a gap.

According UDISE+, 14.6% of women drop out of secondary school in India every year, which shows how difficult it is for women to cope with the demands at home and to make themselves capable of good paying jobs becomes a big challenge. When will we recognize the contribution of women in maintaining households? When will they be freed from the burden of gender roles at home and choose a life of freedom and financial independence? Can we start raising our children without imposing gender roles?


Suggested reading: Where does India rank according to the Global Gender Gap Index 2022


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