Women's Economic Empowerment and Care: Evidence for influencing

Publication date

20 Jul 2015

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Development actors increasingly identify care responsibilities as a factor restricting women’s empowerment outcomes, yet there is limited evidence on determinants of long hours or gender inequality in care work. To gain a clearer understanding of care work and pathways of change to promote more equitable care provision, Oxfam conducted a Household Care Survey in communities of rural Colombia, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Data were collected on household characteristics, members’ time use, socioeconomic status, social norms, labour-saving equipment and public infrastructure. For each country, linear regression models were built using forward stepwise model selection.

Results highlight that gender inequality exists in all measures of care work, with women and girls doing significantly more primary and secondary care activities, and supervision of dependants, than men and boys.

The determinants of care are context-specific. Education and relative household wealth are less relevant as determinants of length, intensity or inequality in care hours than might be expected. Women’s paid/productive activities and access to labour-saving stoves and improved water systems are sometimes associated with decreases in women’s hours of care work. The findings emphasise unequal care responsibilities by gender and age, and encourage further research on determinants of care work in specific contexts.