THE BLOG

Time to Tackle Unpaid Care

03/25/2015 04:53 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2015

It doesn't seem to matter whether you live in the United States, Uruguay or Uganda -- whether you are in the so-called developed world or developing world -- if you are a woman, it's more than likely you will bear the brunt when it comes to providing unpaid care.

That includes childcare, elder care, taking care of family members as well as cooking and cleaning and other household tasks.

Ask women and the majority would probably say that they take on the lion's share of unpaid caring in their family and that this has a major impact on their lives.

But what is that impact and why is it important?

A new report released by the International Planned Parenthood Federation shows that unpaid care can dramatically affect women's lives and impair their ability to have proper access to economic opportunities.

United Nations statistics show that women devote between one to three hours more a day to housework than men, two to 10 times the amount of time a day to care and have one to four hours less a day for formal wage-earning in the job market.

Society's expectations for girls and women can limit their chances across social, economic and political life.

What that means in reality is stark. It is estimated that women account for two-thirds of the 1.4 billion people currently living in extreme poverty and make up 60 per cent of the 572 million 'working poor' in the world.

Around the world women and girls still have lower status, fewer opportunities and lower income, less control over resources and less power than men and boys.

It's time to re-balance the scales. We want women and girls to have the same opportunities afforded to men and boys.

The benefits of economic empowerment are extraordinary. The UN says that when more women work, economies grow faster. An increase in female labour force participation--or a reduction in the gap between women's and men's labour force participation--results in faster economic growth.

Another key benefit outlined by the UN is that evidence from a range of countries shows that increasing the share of household income controlled by women, either through their own earnings or cash transfers, changes spending in ways that benefit children.

If we had gender equality we would all feel the benefits - not just girls and women but men and boys in the developed world and in the developing world, in the United States, Uruguay and Uganda.

It would require a seismic change but there are six key steps outlined in our report that would make a big difference.

In order to bring about gender equality our report is clear that support for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is essential, along with additional funding for SRHR and we need to start measuring outcomes that really matter. We are also calling for laws to eliminate sexual and gender-based violence, for men and boys to be engaged as partners in gender transformative change and for the political capacity of women's groups at the grassroots level to be strengthened.