ActionAid Ghana (AAG) on Friday called for greater recognition and redistribution of the care burden of women as part of activities marking International Women’s Day.
The day, celebrated around the world on March 8 every year, draws attention to the invaluable contributions by women towards the development and prosperity of the world.
The day is also set aside to highlight the many social inequalities and gender disadvantages in the political and economic lives of many countries.
A statement issued by Mr Kwesi Tawiah-Benjamin, AAG Public Relations and Communications Coordinator, said “women have mostly been discriminated against in the sharing of opportunities and resources, thereby rendering many of them poor and economically dependent on men for survival and sustenance”.
It said as a result women, especially the rural poor, lived in unacceptable conditions where opportunities for personal advancement and economic success continue to elude them.
“On this important occasion of the International Women’s Day, AAG recognizes the enormous sacrifices women have been making to sustain their families and by extension, the national economy,” the statement said.
“In many homes, women multitask to provide a variety of domestic and social services to keep their children in school, care for the aged and put food on the table. In rural communities, women walk several miles to fetch firewood and water for their families.”
The statement said generally women were responsible for the health, education and psychological needs of members of their households.
It said in subsistence agriculture women were not only denied their right to land and farming innovations but “they are saddled with difficult tasks such as weeding, planting of crops and harvesting and conveying of farm produce”.
“These sacrifices are unpaid and usually not quantified in monetary terms – and these are classified as ‘Unpaid Care Work’. Unpaid care work is a productive activity that has no remuneration and satisfies people around the provider.”
The statement said the activity yielded an output which was not recognized in financial terms or quantified in time, energy and value, adding that while these sacrifices were crucial to the survival of many families, and women were generally not accorded adequate support.
It said these critical functions were mostly taken for granted and generally not rewarded financially.
The statement said: “In many communities, there is the presumption of a gendered segregation of responsibilities, where women are required to perform domestic tasks to satisfy family and social expectations.
“They have little or no time for leisure or to engage in any productive economic activities, thereby perpetuating gender stereotypes and the associated issues of poverty and discrimination. They are, therefore, unable to engage in profit making ventures usually undertaken by men.”
It said to reduce the burden of unpaid care work on women, AAG had conducted a baseline study in some rural communities, where women were subjected to the ordeal of unpaid care work.
The statement said: “Our study found that the costs and burden of care are unequally borne across gender and class, with 75 per cent of unpaid care work undertaken by women, while 60 per cent of activities involving men are paid for and recognized.
“Only 13 per cent of women in the survey areas earned any income while 93 per cent of men reported that the roles of women are critical to the wellbeing and survival of their families.”
It said: “On this important day dedicated to women, AAG, a rights based organization working in 226 communities in Ghana, is calling for a national conversation on unpaid care work, to challenge government and other key actors to recognise, reduce and redistribute the burden of unpaid care work on women.
“To demand the quantification of women’s unpaid care work as part of the country’s services sector and Gross National Product, and increase investment in child care, water, and health care facilities in poor and deprived communities,
“And to ease the burden on women and girls in Ghana, and increase investment in agricultural extension services to women smallholder farmers, and to address the reproductive challenges identified in the present agricultural policy document.”