Tunis/Tunisia — Women spend between 8 to 12 hours a day doing an unpaid care work compared to 45 minutes on average for men, says an Oxfam Tunisia influencer campaign which sought to raise public awareness, particularly younger people about unpaid care work.
The NGO Oxfam in Tunisia works on promoting women's empowerment including their economic empowerment. In other words, it seeks to promote greater appreciation of their economic contributions as well as create an environment conducive to their participation in the economy.
The concept of "care" has a crucial role. The analysis of "care work" is part of fighting against inequalities and promoting women's empowerment.
Unpaid care work refers to all activities seen as reproductive or domestic work in households on a non-market basis. Although this work is essential for the balance of society and the flourishing of the family, patriarchal social norms on the one hand and sexist state policies on the other hand make this work underestimated, invisible and not recognized.
Despite the progress made in gender equality in Tunisia, inequalities between women and men still exist, particularly when it comes to roles and responsibilities in the household. In reality, these responsibilities are mostly carried out by women.
According to the survey conducted by Oxfam Tunisia in partnership with AFTURD (Association of Tunisian Women for Research and Development), women spend between 8 to 12 hours per day fulfilling an unpaid care work (depending on their age, their family and economic situation and their place of residence) against 45 minutes on average for men (depending on their family and economic situation). In other words, they spend between 33% and 50% of their daily time budget on it compared to 3% for men.
According to the results and conclusions of the time-budget survey in Tunisia (2005/2010) released by the Ministry of Family, Women, Children and the Elderly, the value of this unpaid work is estimated at 23.8 billion Tunisian dinars
Jobs weighing heavily on women
This unpaid care workload hinders women's access to economic opportunities and therefore directly contributes to the feminization of poverty. The time spent in unpaid care work deprives women of accessing self-development opportunities, participating in public life and holding decision-making positions.
Unpaid care work has a huge impact on the health and well-being of women. According to the survey made by Oxfam Tunisia, the mental burden, invisible, incalculable, is considerable for women who are often in charge of running everyday life chores, family, meals, etc.
As for women who have paid job, they work a "double day". They take on all care activities, in addition to their work outside home. Despite the increasing women's participation in paid employment, it turns out according to the results of the study that the time that men devote to domestic and family tasks remains considerably low compared to the time spent by women in these tasks. Thus, women's participation in the professional field does not exempt them from the responsibilities - moral and physical - associated with unpaid care work.
Recommendations of Oxfam Tunisia
The causes and consequences of the unequal distribution of unpaid care work are numerous and interrelated. When taking into account the outcomes of this survey, the recommendations put forward for women's empowerment are structured according to the four areas of work that Oxfam prioritises.
Oxfam recommends increasing recognition of care work, easing the burden it has on women, redistributing the associated responsibilities more fairly between men and women as well as between households, government and the private sector, and finally ensuring the representation of people in charge of care activities in decision-making and leadership positions.
The recommendations put forward target four main actors: the State, civil society, the private sector and donors. Oxfam Tunisia calls on all stakeholders to shape the future of care in Tunisia, but mainly the government whose role is to catalyze and promote change, adopt and implement care policies, and invest in the economy of care, as a means of achieving gender justice.
Fighting for decades for a just world without poverty in over 90 countries, Oxfam has been present since 1975 in the Maghreb and covers Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, and the territory of Western Sahara.
In Tunisia since 2012 with over thirty partner organizations, Oxfam focuses on three main areas of intervention: citizen mobilization for governance approaches and socio-economic policies against inequalities, gender justice and women's empowerment as well as consolidating a free and influential space for civil society.