Lightening the Load of Women’s Unpaid Care Work

By Alex Lankester, Head of Corporate Partnerships, Oxfam

Lightening the Load of Women’s Unpaid Care Work

We’re excited to announce a three-year partnership with Unilever’s Surf brand that aims to recognise, reduce and redistribute the amount of time spent by women and girls on unpaid care work.

In some parts of the world women and girls currently spend as many as six hours a day on unpaid care work – a vital contribution that disproportionately affects women and girls and often goes unrecognised. This in turn, can greatly limit their ability to take opportunities to earn a living, participate in public life, and pursue an education.

The first of its kind, the programme is set to start in the Philippines and Zimbabwe towards the end of 2016. The goals include improving water infrastructure to reduce the time it takes to do household chores; helping society recognise that household tasks are limiting women’s choices; working with communities, governments and companies to drive a change in attitudes so that household tasks are shared more fairly between women and men.

The partnership will positively impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, a large proportion of whom will be women and girls. It also aims to reach millions of people globally by supporting activities to increase awareness the impact unpaid care work has on women and girls’ lives.

As, Analia Mendez, Global Director, Social Mission Expertise, Home Care at Unilever, says,

“Responsibility for unpaid care falls on the shoulders of women and girls. In some parts of the world, women are spending most of their time on household chores – including laundry – at the expense of opportunities to learn and work. Water scarcity increases the time spent on domestic chores with girls and women going to great efforts to obtain water; in some parts of Africa and Asia, women walk on average six kilometres every day to the nearest water source.

“We have gained important insight from our portfolio of brands and products used by millions of consumers every day; Surf alone reaches 100 million households world-wide. We will use this knowledge, with Oxfam, to work to alleviate some of this load, making laundry easier and changing social norms to empower women and girls to have more choice over how they spend their time.”

Oxfam’s expertise in water infrastructure and gender advocacy means we are in a strong position to pioneer new and effective approaches – and we have already seen strong results from our pilot programmes. Combined with the important insight and knowledge Unilever has gained from its portfolio of brands and products used by millions of consumers every day, we hope this partnership will provide women and girls with more choice on how they spend their time, helping them take advantage of opportunities to improve their lives.

Editor’s Note:

This article first appeared on Oxfam and is reproduced with permission.

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