Social Issues

Recognising and Valuing Women’s Contributions Through Unpaid Care Work

Unpaid care work, primarily conducted by women, is critical to family well-being and contributes significantly to a country’s economy. However, it is frequently overlooked and devalued, resulting in gender inequity and economic consequences. On this Mother’s Day and beyond, we must reflect on and improve our attitudes regarding women’s vital roles in our society.

The Value of Unpaid Care Work

  • Daily chores are necessary for their well-being: Unpaid care work includes daily duties like cleaning, cooking, and caring to the needs of family members that are critical to their well-being.
  • It contributes significantly to a country’s GDP, ranging from 10 to 39 percent according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and 7.5 percent in India, according to a State Bank of India assessment.

The Consequences of Unpaid Care Work

  • Gender Inequality: Unpaid care work creates gender inequality by reinforcing traditional gender roles. Caregiving and family tasks are unequally distributed, limiting women’s possibilities for education, employment, and promotion, creating a cycle of economic and social disadvantage.
  • Unpaid care work is frequently concealed in economic systems and metrics, such as GDP calculations. This invisibility devalues carers’ contributions and ignores the economic relevance of care labour, resulting in an underestimating of women’s economic contributions.
  • Economic Loss and Income Reduction: The time and energy spent on unpaid care duties might limit women’s capacity to work or pursue economic prospects. This results in lower income potential and financial dependence, which contributes to income disparities between men and women.Unpaid care work consumes a large amount of time and effort, leaving women with little time for personal growth, education, skill training, and leisure activities. This limits their ability to achieve personal objectives and self-actualization.
  • Health and Well-Being: The physical and emotional health of women might suffer as a result of the strain of unpaid care duties. The constant juggling of caregiving tasks, domestic chores, and other commitments can lead to stress, exhaustion, and burnout, all of which can have a detrimental impact on well-being.
  • Education and job progression: The unequal allocation of care work might impede women’s educational options and their capacity to pursue further education or job progression. This fosters a cycle of female professional stagnation and diminished leadership opportunities.
  • Unpaid care work has an impact on women’s engagement in the formal labour sector. Time restrictions and caregiving duties make it difficult for women to work, contributing to the gender gap in labour participation and representation.
  • The gendered allocation of unpaid care work has the potential to reinforce existing gender stereotypes and perpetuate inequity across generations. Children who grow up in homes where women do the majority of the caring may internalise and mimic gendered roles in their own lives.
  • Policy and societal implications: The undervaluation and obscurity of unpaid care labour impedes the development of effective policies and social institutions to support carers. Gender inequality can be perpetuated and progress towards gender-responsive policies and systems hampered by a lack of awareness and support.

Reasons and Consequences of Gender-Based Labour Division

  • Norms of History and Culture: Gender roles in society are shaped by deeply ingrained historical and cultural traditions. Traditional gender conventions frequently dictate that women should be primarily responsible for caregiving and household tasks, while males are expected to work outside the home.
  • Gender Expectations and Stereotypes: Stereotypical ideas about men’s and women’s innate skills and preferences shape society expectations about work and family duties. Stereotypes of women as loving, emotional, and prone to caregiving, and men as strong, assertive, and suited to paid work, all contribute to the gendered division of labour.
  • Economic Factors and Structural Inequality: Labor-market structural inequalities, such as gender wage disparities and fewer chances for women’s advancement, generate economic impediments for women. Undervaluing traditionally female-dominated industries adds to the depreciation of women’s labour and promotes the gendered division of labour.
  • Socialisation and Education: From a young age, socialisation processes play an important part in defining gender roles and expectations. Children are frequently socialised into specific gender roles through a variety of avenues such as family, education, media, and peer pressures.
  • Family Dynamics and Household Responsibilities: Regardless of work level, women are usually assigned the majority of caring and domestic responsibilities within the family unit. Women’s time and energy are disproportionately allocated to unpaid work due to unequal distribution of domestic duties and caregiving responsibilities, restricting their possibilities for paid employment and professional growth.
  • Patriarchy and Power Dynamics: Patriarchy gives men more authority and control over resources, while women’s labour is frequently undervalued and neglected. These power relations reinforce established gender norms and limit women’s ability to question or negotiate their participation in various aspects of life, such as work and family.

Way ahead: Need for Redefining Societal Attitudes

  • Recognising the Importance of Unpaid Care Work: Unpaid care work is critical to the well-being and functioning of families and societies. It is critical to recognise and respect the contributions of carers, especially women, because their job has substantial economic, social, and emotional consequences.
  • Challenging Gender Stereotypes: Societal attitudes frequently promote traditional gender roles, with caregiving viewed as exclusively the responsibility of women. Redefining attitudes entails fighting prejudices and promoting the idea that caregiving should be shared by all family members, regardless of gender.
  • Promoting Gender Equality: It is critical to redefine social views towards care labour in order to promote gender equality. It entails acknowledging that caregiving is a shared responsibility shared by partners, families, and society as a whole.
  • Women can be empowered to pursue their educational, professional, and personal goals through altering society views. When the burden of unpaid care work is more evenly distributed, women have the chance to fully participate in the workforce, contribute to economic growth, and express their rights and choices.
  • Breaking the Gendered Division of Labour Cycle: Redefining societal views aids in breaking the gendered division of labour cycle, in which women are predominantly responsible for unpaid care tasks. It promotes men to take an active role in caregiving, promoting a more fair and equitable sharing of home tasks.
  • Creating friendly surroundings: Part of redefining cultural attitudes is to create friendly surroundings that facilitate and value carer tasks. This includes work-life balance policies in the workplace, access to inexpensive and high-quality childcare, and social institutions that recognise and assist carers.
  • Societal attitudes towards care employment reflect broader social norms and ideals. By altering these views, society can become more inclusive, progressive, and equitable, with the contributions of all persons acknowledged and respected, regardless of gender or caregiving duties.

@the end

It is critical to recognise and recognise the work done by women on Mother’s Day and beyond, transcending the singular function of mothers or carers. Collective efforts are required to challenge and modify societal attitudes that disregard women’s rights and promote gender inequality.

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