‘Care work is teamwork’: Advocacy group bats for gender equality in housework

June 21, 2021 - 9:38 PM
Image by Grass America via Pixabay

Oxfam Philippines, a poverty alleviation organization, on Monday, underscored the reality of unequal housework amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a Father’s Day webinar titled “Usapang Gawaing-Bahay sa Panahon ng Pandemya,” which seeks to address unequal distribution of unpaid care and domestic work (UCDW), the humanitarian organization released details of its commissioned 2021 National Household Care Survey.

Data from the poll showed that women spend up to 13 hours a day on unpaid care work compared to only eight hours for men.

The hours reported, especially for men, are much higher compared to Oxfam’s 2017 Household Care Survey wherein women spent 12 hours a day on care work while men spent only 5 hours on such tasks.

However, women are still bearing the brunt of unpaid care work. Filipinas spend an average of 6.5 hours a day with care work as their primary activity while men only spend an average of 2.43 hours a day.

Infographics from Oxfam Philippines
Infographics from Oxfam Philippines

Policies and initiatives

Oxfam Philippines continued to push for an inclusive society by creating programs and policies that aim to recognize, reduce and redistribute UCDW.

“Sa mga area kung saan nagwo-work ang Oxfam, mayroon nang at least 28 local government units na nagsusulong ng on Women Economic and Care local legislation,” Resilience Portfolio Manager of Oxfam Philippines, Leah Payud, said in the webinar.

Payud added that addressing this issue is in compliance with Sustainable Development Goals 5.4, which ought to recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work within the household and the family as nationally appropriate.

Meanwhile, Eastern Samar Vice Mayor Leo Jasper Candido shared on the webinar that he became an advocate of unpaid care work because of Oxfam’s seminar tackling gender equality.

“At first I was not convinced. I thought at that time na normal lang naman ang mga gawaing-bahay para sa nanay,” the vice mayor said. “But the turning point was when we focused on gender equality.”

He later presented his advocacy to the Sanguniang Bayan of the Municipality of Quinapondan. Reluctant at first because of the unfamiliar notion, they passed an ordinance recognizing and valuing unpaid care and domestic works that was approved last 2018.

Screenshot of the Municipal ordinance on his presentation.

As part of the implementation of the said ordinance, the municipality invested and purchased labor-saving equipment such as cooking stove, rice cooker, and kitchen utensils.

There were also care dialogue sessions for husband and wife and to help them understand unpaid care work led by the municipal social welfare office.

There were evident progressive initiatives and policies to address gender inequality on housework and data showing that men increased hours on care work due to the pandemic. But, Payud asserted that these findings do not mean that there is a change in the social norms.

“Nandoon pa rin ang malaking oras of unpaid care works sa mga babae,” Oxfam manager said. “It is not an automatic translation of gender equality.”

She believed there is a need for institutional changes such as legislation or policies that support the care economy and improvement of care-related services such as water systems, health care delivery, and daycare services.