English | Dzongkha Sunday, February 23, 2020

Women providing unpaid care services is almost three times higher than men

Oct 11, 2019

Women are mostly the primary providers of unpaid care comprising of household activities such as cooking, cleaning and caring for children, the sick and the elderly. In Bhutan, it is estimated that unpaid work being undertaken by women today has a total value of over Nu 23.5bn, equivalent to 16 per cent of GDP if measured using a specialist wage.

This is as per the report “Accounting for Unpaid Care Work in Bhutan 2019” launched today coinciding with the International Day of the Girl Child.

The report shows that the participation rate for women in providing unpaid care services is almost three times higher than that for men.  Among the activities, both men and women spent the most time in cooking. However, women spent around 3.5 times on cooking than men. Women, in fact, spent more than twice the amount of time spent by men in all the unpaid household and care work except for travel related to household members and caring for adults.

While it is evident that unpaid care such as spending quality time with children contributes to functioning and healthy society, but it comes at the cost of their own welfare. Women’s disproportionate share on such activities has a direct negative impact on their ability to participate in the paid economy and other opportunities.

“There is an opportunity cost involved in having available time for themselves, to take care of themselves and more amount of leisure time for themselves and so on. So it’s basically like impeding on women’s opportunity on for their growth, for them to go outside and to have exposure and learn and participate in opportunities outside of the home,” said Tshewang Lhamo, a Senior Programme Officer at NCWC.

To combat these, the commission plans to set up an institutional structure that recognises its value and ensure its equally distributed across the population.

“Some of the main recommendations that come from the study is that one is to look at how we can institutionalise collection of information and data related to unpaid care work and value of unpaid care work and including in the national accounting system. Another looks putting in policies and intervention to actually ease the burden of unpaid care work. Also, advocate for equal unpaid share work within the family,” she added.

The data, however, is not unique to Bhutan. In fact, it is a global pattern that shows the same trend between men and women.

Samten Dolkar

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