Unpaid care refers to all non-market, unpaid activities that are carried out in households, such as caring for children or the elderly, and other activities such as cooking, cleaning, or fetching water. Although many advances have been made in gender equality, in many parts of the world, this is still considered a women’s or girl’s role.
Unpaid work and domestic work contribute $10 trillion of output per year – roughly equivalent to 13% of global GDP (World Bank, 2012) – yet it remains largely invisible, unrecognised and absent from public policies. As this societal burden is placed on women and girls, it leaves them with little to no time to pursue paid and civic empowerment, that would otherwise contribute to personal and economic development.
A study by Oxfam on Gendered Patterns of Unpaid Care and Domestic Work in the Urban Informal Settlements of Nairobi, Kenya, 2019 revealed that women in Kenya have by far the greatest responsibility for unpaid care and domestic work, as they spend on average, 5 hours a day on primary care compared to about 1 hour a day reported by men (Oxfam, 2019).
This resonates across the African continent, as women’s time constrains are perceived to be highest in rural areas because of the arduous tasks of collecting water, fuel, and preparing food. Collectively, women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa are responsible for collecting 71% of all household water, spending 16 million hours every day collecting water, compared to 6 million hours for men and 4 million hours for children (UN Women, 2015; Oxfam, 2019).
Kenya and other countries around the world are recognising the importance of gender equality in achieving sustainable development. But what this report really reveals, is that women’s unpaid care responsibilities are a key constraint to women’s participation in education, self-care, leadership, and economic opportunities. The report emphasises that care work should be recognised at all levels and reduced, to allow women and girls to spend more time on leisure and partake in value adding activities.
That’s where Keystone come in. In Kenya, our community-based programmes are set on achieving equality of opportunity. We understand that for our activities to be successful, we must sensitise genders working together, by encouraging the distribution and sharing of economic resources and even household chores. Change stems from a personal, then household level, and by recognising the social norms from the outset, we are able to adapt the interventions to present women with equal prospects. This matters, because as a sustainable developer, we also realise that change is a process, and takes time. We are whole heartedly committed to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and will use these as our guideline to achieve our objectives.