Global Resources

A woman's job: who cares about unpaid carers?

Author: Liz Ford
Publisher: The Guardian, UK
Publication Date: Oct 2013

Women’s health can be adversely affected by an endless cycle of cooking, cleaning, and caregiving at home. How can women be supported in these roles, and what role can men play in doing so? This Guardian Global Development article explores this issue, noting that unpaid care and work is beginning to be viewed in terms of violating the human rights of women who often have no option but to sacrifice their own well-being for that of their family. Externalities must also be considered, such as housework duties denying girls the opportunity to attend school, or prohibiting women from joining the labour force and gaining economic empowerment. Additionally, states rarely acknowledge unpaid work, meaning women are often not eligible for social benefits such as pensions.

Situations such as these cause great vulnerability, as any potential extra responsibility risks proving too much to handle. For instance, should a woman have to take on care for a family member with AIDS, it can increase their workload by up to a third. The article refers to a report published by the special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, which argues that the unequal burden of unpaid care placed on women represents a "major barrier to gender equality and to women's equal enjoyment of human rights, and, in many cases, condemns women to poverty". The article also includes a short animated video, produced by the Institute of Development Studies to coincide with the launch of the report, to spread awareness of the issue. Finally, readers are were invited to share their thoughts on the topic, which can be found below the article.