Unequal Unpaid Care Work

We're working with CARE International UK to support women entrepreneurs by shaping policy on unpaid care work.

Care and domestic work are vital to our economies and societies. It is estimated that unpaid care work adds $10.8 trillion USD to the global economy each year, equivalent to 9% of global GDP. This work is disproportionately carried out by women and girls, and forms a critical barrier for women entrepreneurs who have to juggle it with running a business.

Over late 2022 we surveyed over 700 women entrepreneurs across nearly 80 countries on their experiences, publishing our findings in a report launched in March 2023. Half of these women (49%) told us that their unpaid care workload had increased since the beginning of the pandemic, with 41% now carrying out four or more hours of unpaid care a day. Worryingly, almost one in five (19%) say that this has undermined the performance or limited the growth of their business.

One of the factors fuelling unequal unpaid care work division is gender stereotypes and social norms. These affect the views and values relating to care work and contribute to the gendered division of care at the household, community, and global level. The most common gender stereotypes that women entrepreneurs surveyed for our 2021 report on the topic had experienced in childhood related to the behaviour or division of domestic labour, particularly that women should be taking care of children or men should be the main providers of the household. Almost half (49%) of respondents also reported that family members or friends have told them to focus more on family or children.

The challenge as a woman in this business is the family care. I need to take care of my girls. I home school them because of finance. And right now, I am the only one doing everything.

Odunayo Anyibuofu, founder of Ally Rally Apparel in Nigeria and Cherie Blair Foundation for Women alumna mentee

In order to influence the UK government and global policymakers to fulfil their commitments to women and girls and on women’s economic justice, we are working with CARE International UK on an exciting advocacy project, with support from the Ares Charitable Foundation. Through evidence building, analysis and storytelling, we are looking into solutions of overcoming inequalities in unpaid care, and how building a caring economy—in line with the 5R framework for decent care work and by recognising care as a right—can foster women’s entrepreneurship and economic justice.

In order to share our findings, we will draw together and publish a briefing in summer 2023. This will promote best practices and concrete examples of projects, policies, campaigns or other interventions that have enabled women entrepreneurs in low and middle income countries and in the UK to address inequity in unpaid care work.

To stay up-to-date with this project and the briefing as it progresses, please sign up to our monthly e-newsletter.


Our partners

Our advocacy project on unequal unpaid care work is supported by the Ares Charitable Foundation and delivered with CARE International UK.

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