A young women entering the job market today can be expected to work for an average of four years more than male peers over their lifetime, according to new research.
After the total amount of both paid and unpaid work undertaken by both women and men are taken into account, every women works the equivalent of one extra month every year of their life, due to discriminatory social norms that mean women do more unpaid work.
The latest report from ActionAid UK, called Not Ready, Still Waiting, highlights that the global burden of unpaid work on women, including family and home duties, can limit income generating opportunities, have their voices heard in decision-making and political activities, as well as for rest and leisure.
The report has been launched ahead of the UN high-level panel for women’s economic empowerment meeting at the United Nations general assembly on Thursday.
ActionAid UK say that reducing income inequality will not be enough to change women’s lives, but laws and policies must be introduced as inequality has a more severe impact on women.
The research found that globally, using analysis from 217 developed and developing countries, women’s additional hours of unpaid work over their lifetime came to an estimated 23 working years on average, based on a man’s average working day of 6.79 hours.
Action Aid UK said in the report: “Women will continue to experience inequalities unless their vastly disproportionate levels of unpaid care work are recognised, reduced and redistributed.”
The charity are calling on governments, particularly in developing countries, put in place appropriate systems, governance, financial support, monitoring and evaluation programmes so policies can be designed with a genuine “feminist lens” insisting that women’s development potential be at the centre of analysis and decisions.
Girish Menon, chief executive of ActionAid UK said: “We do not mean to suggest that all unpaid work, including unpaid care work, should be remunerated, or to ascribe a monetary value to unpaid care, which includes what we believe to be intrinsically invaluable activities, such as loving and nurturing children and family.
“Rather, ActionAid believes women’s unpaid work should be recognised, reduced and redistributed – between women and men, and between the household and the state.
“Women’s labour – in and outside the home – is vital to sustainable development and for the wellbeing of society. Without the subsidy it provides, the world economy would not function. Yet it is undervalued and for the most part invisible.”