Survey: Women, girls bear brunt of unpaid care work in slums

Written By: Vereso Mwanga

55% of women reported they had suffered from health risks for performing heavy tasks.

A majority of women and girls in Nairobi city bear the burden of unpaid care and domestic work.

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This is according to a Household Care Survey conducted by OXFAM in 2019 in 5 informal settlements in the capital which established that women spend 11.1 hours per day on any care compared to men who spend 2.9 hours per day.

A total of 328 women, 42 men and 93 children (48 male and 45 female) took part in the study conducted in Kibera, Mathare, Mukuru, Kawangware and Korogocho.

The survey further revealed women spend an average of 5 hours a day on primary care compared to about 1 hour reported by men.

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55% of women reported they had suffered from health risks including injury, illness or disability due to performing heavy tasks.

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Women who owned fuel and washing-related equipment spent about 2-3 hours less on any care and women with access to improved water sources and healthcare facilities spent from 4 to 5 hours less per day on any care compared with women without these services.

Moreover, women who lived further away from the nearest market spent more time on any care. When it comes to paid work the study established that men spent almost double the time women spent.

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Wairu Kinyori Director of Programmes at Oxfam Kenya says “This unequal distribution of unpaid care and domestic work is a key driver to inequality which limits women’s opportunities for economic empowerment and political participation. There is need to remove the shame in unpaid care and domestic work.”

Tabitha Kiriti Ng’ang’a Professor of Economics and Gender Studies at the University of Nairobi avers “When unpaid work is not valued it means we are reducing the value of our GDP. Ideally, unpaid care and domestic work should be shared between men and women, girls and boys in a household.” This she says will be a step towards “Leveling the playing field as we engage in the gender equality debate.”

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The study recommends a four Rs’ framework namely; Recognition, Reduction, Redistribution and Representation for policy and programming interventions to address unpaid care and domestic work.

The recommendations are anchored on the Sustainable Development Goal 5.4 which promotes recognition and value for unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate.





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