Author: Alex Thornton, Senior Writer, Formative Content
- COVID-19 restrictions mean both men and women spend longer doing jobs around the home.
- Women have seen a larger increase in unpaid work than men.
- Evidence shows that COVID-19 is reinforcing traditional social and cultural gender norms.
- A new report for UN Women analyses data from 38 countries around the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic, and the economic downturn it has caused, have hit everyone hard. But the impact has not been spread equally. A new report by UN Women has found clear evidence that, although both genders have seen their unpaid workloads increase, women are bearing more of the burden than men.
Even before the pandemic, women were spending on average three times as many hours as men on domestic chores, childcare and looking after vulnerable or elderly loved ones. Widespread restrictions on daily life, school closures, disruption to businesses and a big rise in working from home have made many tasks more time-consuming and arduous.
As the following charts show, more women than men have reported an increase in their workload in almost every aspect of domestic life.
Putting in the extra hours
The data also shows more men saying that they usually don’t do a particular task.
The average woman now spends nearly the equivalent of a full-time job doing unpaid childcare – a full working day a week more than the average man. —“Whose time to care?”, UN Women
Nearly a third of women report spending more time cooking and serving meals, compared to just under a fifth of men. Half of all men say they don’t normally get involved in preparing food at all.
A similar picture emerges when looking at childcare. Research for UN Women carried out by Ipsos in 16 countries showed that before the pandemic women spent an average of 26 hours per week looking after children, compared to 20 hours a week for men. That has now risen by 5.2 hours for women, and just 3.5 hours for men. As a result, the average woman now spends nearly the equivalent of a full-time job doing unpaid childcare – a full working day a week more than the average man.
And as the chart shows, there are big regional differences. Although every nation surveyed showed a rise, the effects were most pronounced in less affluent countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa, compared to wealthier countries.