According to a new study by the Center for Global Development, women in low- and middle-income countries provided up to three times more additional unpaid childcare than men during the pandemic.
The study, which aggregates data from the United Nations, the World Bank, UNESCO, the OECD and the Austrian network research center Wittgenstein, estimates that every woman who cares for a child spends an average of 173 additional hours in childcare. from school closure to October 2020 compared to only 59 additional hours for men. In low- and middle-income countries, these numbers rose, with women working an average of 217 extra hours while men worked 70. Those extra hours they spent looking after children as a result of the mass school closings were not fully offset.
Charles Kenny, chief investigator for the CGD, says that while all parents do unpaid caregiving in a typical year, school closings put an extra burden on caregiving that made poor families particularly difficult to function.
“In a typical year, this supervision would be done by preschool teachers and school teachers,” says Kenny. “And that’s all gone. The teachers have been paid and now that burden of supervision has suddenly shifted to a group of people who are not paid for the work. All parents, including me, provide unpaid care in a normal year. But this is care that would be provided by paid providers in a normal year and is now provided by poor parents in addition to the usual care work ”.
Before the pandemic, women were doing an average of 4.5 billion hours of unpaid childcare per year, men 1.4 billion. After the pandemic, the total number of hours of unpaid childcare increased by 12%, according to the study.
The gender gap in childcare is related to, but does not fully explain, the gender gap in unemployment related to the pandemic, Kenny says. Although women’s unemployment increased more than men’s during the pandemic, this does not fully explain the gender gap in childcare, which means that women take on most of the extra hours of childcare, even when they have other responsibilities.
“More women-owned companies have closed than men-owned companies, but when you look at these loopholes, they’re big and important, but they’re small compared to the numbers we see when it comes to the extra kid small die Care, support.” , he says. “That suggests women might have to juggle even more last year than usual. It may not be easy to spot in economic statistics because it doesn’t show up as a lost job or closed business.”
Among the 24 low- and middle-income countries surveyed, the study shows that carers in India, one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, provide the most unpaid childcare in the country with 176 billion hours of additional unpaid childcare. . The gender gap was also more pronounced in India, as in the wake of the pandemic women spent 360 hours more in childcare than in a normal year, while men only took 33 additional hours in childcare.
Kenny attributes India’s high numbers to a combination of ongoing school closings, its large population, and the existence of pre-existing gender segregation in childcare, only exacerbated by the pandemic.
However, not all low- and middle-income countries saw an increase in the gender gap in childcare. In South Africa, while women still provided most of the additional childcare, evidence from the CGD report suggests that at the height of the country’s shutdown, “the distribution of labor may have been more equitable than it was before the pandemic”.
Although low- and middle-income countries are more likely to have larger child populations, rich countries are not exempt from the gender gap in childcare. While women in low- and middle-income countries do about three-quarters of the childcare work, women in high-income countries still do about two-thirds of the childcare work.
In Canada, for example, although both men and women reported a 39% increase in hours.