Oxfam America

Her Time, Her Power: Unlocking Gender Equality

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Progress towards achieving gender equality is thwarted because women bear unequal responsibility for unpaid care and domestic work. This limits their time to pursue opportunities for decent work, education, and political participation. We aim to relieve the unequal amount of arduous unpaid care and domestic work carried out by women in cities in South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda, the Philippines, and Bolivia. Ultimately, we will shift entrenched gender power dynamics in households and around the world. As a result, poor and marginalized women will reclaim over 100 million hours of time and care for dependents will improve. With innovative municipal and employer policies, Care Champion Cities will inspire other cities and global bodies to unlock progress on gender equality.

Problem Statement

Progress towards achieving gender equality is stalling. At the current rate of change, the global gender gap will take 108 years to close. One of the largest contributors to gender inequality is women and girls spending up to 11 hours a day on unpaid domestic care work—four times more than men. Women who engage in paid work often complete a ‘second shift’ of care work at home. Heavy, unequal domestic workloads undermine women’s rights to decent work, education, and political participation. Domestic work is also dangerous: in a survey of poor women, one-third reported injury or illness due to domestic tasks. The problem persists because of unequal power between men and women. Demand for unpaid care is increasing. According to the ILO, worldwide 2.1 billion people needed care in 2015. By 2030, this number is expected to reach 2.3 billion, driven by an additional 200 million older persons and children. Additionally, global investments in women’s empowerment programs may be compromised because they don’t consider the extra care work women are already doing. This leads to a “double burden” where women’s overall responsibilities increase as new opportunities arise. The problem of unpaid care won’t be solved by current piecemeal efforts. Transforming care requires multiple interventions, as called for by SDG 5.4: “recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family”. Our intervention pushes each of these levers.

Solution Overview

To reignite progress on gender equality, we will inspire public actors, companies, and civil society to champion new investments, policies, and behaviors related to unpaid care. In five Care Champion Cities we will convene collaborations among municipal offices, private employers, and civil society to drive positive changes in public policies, budgets, infrastructure, services and business practices. We will use communications campaigns and Unilever’s advertising power to challenge stereotypes and celebrate shared care. Community programming to transform roles at household level will reinforce these changes. Our project will benefit 1.7 million people, and our public messaging will reach 100 million people. As a result, at least 100 million hours will be freed for women to use for their wellbeing, jobs, education, or public participation. We will document impact and demonstrate success in order to influence global institutions. We will know we are succeeding when we see: 1)positive changes in attitudes regarding roles of men and women2)reduced and redistributed time spent on care work 3)better quality of care received by children, the elderly, and disabled persons 4)increased cities’ investments and improved employers’ policies5)interest from other cities and global institutions to address unpaid careBeneficiaries include women who benefit from reduced and manageable care work; men and families who gain from a more equal distribution of care within the household; and people with disabilities, children, and the elderly who gain from higher-quality care.

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Project Funders

  • UK Department for International Development 2014 - 2020
  • Unilever 2016 - 2019
  • William & Flora Hewlett Foundation 2014 - 2020

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