Unpaid care work prevents women from moving to better jobs: ILO report

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NEW DELHI: Unpaid care work is one of the main obstacles preventing women from moving to better jobs, an International Labour Organisation (ILO) report said while making a strong case for doubling investment in care business across the globe in order to create 269 million jobs by 2030.
Care work mainly involves looking after children and elderly persons, the report said, adding that in 2015, 1.1 billion people were in need of care (992 million children under the age of 15, and 110 million older persons). Worldwide by 2030, this number is expected to reach 2.3 billion, driven by an additional 200 million older persons and children.
The ILO report ‘Care work and care jobs for the future of decent work’ says that women spend 4.1 times more time in Asia and the Pacific in unpaid care work than men.
It says that on an average in India women spent 297 minutes per day on unpaid care work as against 31 minutes by men, while in case of paid work women spend only 160 minutes compared to 360 minutes by men.
Referring to India, it suggested that the country needs to raise expenditure on education, health and social work from 6 per cent of GDP or USD 116.66 billion in 2015 to 9 per cent or USD 571.4 billion by 2030 in high road scenario to create jobs.
According to the ILO report, for the future of decent work, investment in the care economy needs to be doubled to avert a looming global care crisis.
It also called for sweeping changes in policies to address the rising need for care and tackle the huge disparity between women’s and men’s care responsibilities. The figures show that globally women are performing more than three-quarters of the time spent in unpaid care work.
Around 269 million new jobs could be created if investment in education, health and social work were doubled by 2030, the report says.
“The global prominence of nuclear families and single-headed households, and the growth of women’s employment in certain countries increase the demand for care workers. If not addressed properly, current deficits in care work and its quality will create a severe and unsustainable global care crisis and further increase gender inequalities in the world of work”, said Laura Addati, lead author of the report.
Data from 64 countries representing two-thirds of the world’s working age population show that 16.4 billion hours per day are spent in unpaid care work – the equivalent to 2 billion people working eight hours per day with no remuneration. Were such services to be valued on the basis of an hourly minimum wage, they would amount to 9 per cent of global GDP or USD 11 trillion (purchasing power parity in 2011).
“By 2030, the number of care recipients is predicted to remain at 1.1 billion (944 million children under the age of 15, and 163 million older persons). The additional 53 million older persons represent more than half of the predicted global increase in the number of older persons (100 million). decades,” said Shauna Olney, Chief of the Gender, Equality and Diversity and ILOAIDS Branch of the ILO.
The report says that unpaid care work is the main barrier preventing women from getting into, remaining and progressing in the labour force. In 2018, 606 million working age women said that they were not able to do so because of unpaid care work. Only 41 million men said they were not in the labour force for the same reason.
The report advocates a ‘high road’ to care work, which would result in a total of 475 million jobs by 2030, namely 269 million additional jobs compared with the number of jobs in 2015.