HomeNewsStudy: Filipino women still bear brunt of unpaid care work

Study: Filipino women still bear brunt of unpaid care work

“Traditional gender norms or stereotypes surrounding unpaid care work and breadwinning still persist in this day and age”

Filipino women continue to bear the brunt of unpaid care work, resulting in many of them juggling full-time work and a “second shift” at home tending to backbreaking household chores and caring for family members.

A research done by aid agency Oxfam Pilipinas among 232 respondents, mostly from urban millennials in the business process outsourcing sector, or BPOs, noted that “traditional gender norms or stereotypes surrounding unpaid care work and breadwinning still persist in this day and age.”

“Women are still pressured to do more household chores and care work even while working full-time,” said Leah Payud, Oxfam Pilipinas resilience portfolio manager.

“Men are also still expected to be primary breadwinners of households,” said Payud in a statement that accompanied the release of the result of the study on March 29.

The study was done to look into the current situation of unpaid care work in Filipino homes, especially among urban millennials. It was done with the support of the group Investing in Women and The Women and Gender Institute of Miriam College.

Payud said there is, however, “a lot of potential for positive changes to occur among urban millennials.”

She said that due to the high rate of women employed in BPOs, “the industry is a promising area to begin shifting gender norms for the better.”

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Oxfam previously released a household survey showing that men spent more hours doing unpaid care work during the pandemic. However, women still shouldered the bulk of the tasks.

Of the 232 respondents of the 2022 action research, all were full-time BPO employees and nearly half were household heads.

Majority (78%) are from Metro Manila, 15% are from Metro Cebu and the rest are from other parts of the country.

Among the key findings of the study are:

  • Women still take on much of the responsibilities in the home, such as unpaid care work and household chores.
  • Breadwinning is still a responsibility mostly taken up by men but urban millennials believe women can also be breadwinners.
  • Women continue to be held against very high standards, especially when seeking to apply for traditionally male roles.
  • The traditional gender norm that men are preferable leaders compared to women — because men are seen as decisive, intentional and strong whereas women are seen as tentative, emotional and indecisive — remains pervasive.
  • Workplace discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation and gender identity still happens.
  • Balancing work responsibilities with unpaid care and domestic responsibilities has been difficult throughout the pandemic.

“We’ve seen through the study that more women are taking on breadwinner roles,” said Payud, adding that other family members are also now contributing to unpaid care work to help parents.

The study suggested the following recommendations:

  • Promote gender equality in the workplace to support women breadwinning
  • Ensure diversity among staff by assessing existing job descriptions and requirements and change them to expand pool of applicants;
  • Ensure better representation of women in leadership roles;
  • Mainstream unpaid care and domestic work through workplace gender equality programs, including allowing flexible working hours for both men and women employees and extending parental leaves.

Payud also stressed the need “to make more visible the challenges faced by non-binary and LGBTQIA+ community members.”

“Hopefully through our joint work with the government and other organizations, we can raise the awareness about the burden of unpaid care work — how it should be recognized as real work and how those who take on the task should be supported by their families and society,” she said.

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