By Gifty Arthur
Actionaid Ghana, has described as unacceptable the expectation of women, especially at home with regards to their duties and responsibilities, suggesting it is time measures are put in place to reduce, redirect and redistribute these tasks, to lessen the burden of women and girls.
ActionAid Ghana, a global justice federation,says several researches have shown that, women who constitute over 50 percent of Ghana’s population, have disproportionate responsibility working more and longer hours than their men counterparts.
Unpaid care work, refers to all unpaid services within a household for its members, including care of persons, housework and voluntary community work.
It is perceived to be less valuable than paid work and it is ignored and not considered to be “work” even by the women and men, who engage in and benefit directly from these activities.
Women, who often work outside home, like males also come home to cook,wash, clean,and care for children, the ill, the elderly.
Young girls, especially in deprived areas in the course of doing this work, are often denied access to education.
But the aforementioned works are not acknowledged or rewarded because society or culture assigned them as being the responsibilities of women.
It is in this regard that ActionAid Ghana, has designed a campaign, aimed at changing the norm and also, getting government, to among others,capture unpaid care work in data and also discuss it in national debates for more attention to be brought to it.
It is also to encourage and draw the attention of men and boys to see the need, to assist at home so that women and girls can have some respite or have time for themselves.
The campaign again, is to get authorities to consider it, to ensure government factors it in, when designing and implementing economic and social policies.
At a national dialogue session on unpaid care work yesterday in Accra, speakers and participants, argued forcefully the need for government to pay critical attention to the call, as it has several implications, including economic, social, health etc.
The campaign is themed: Recognize, Reduce and Redistribute unpaid care work, women labour counts” and it is to get government and everyone especially to relook at how unpaid care work can be performed by everyone at home and not only women or girls.
Participants were drawn from various governmental institutions, as well as civil society and private institutions.
Supporting institutions were the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.
ActionAid’s Project Manager-Power Azumi Mesuna, said unpaid care work has no boundary, adding it is so critical that it needs to be “institutionalized”.
According to her, these same women who work from dawn to dust are unable to access decent work.
She said,women are already overburdened as they are low income earners but at the end, work harder than their male counterparts. Azumi Mesuna, said there should be flexibility for instance at work places so that women can work peacefully.
She said government has the responsibility to for instance make day care centres available at workplaces so that, while working, their children are closer to them so that when the need arises, they can dash to these centres, to provide care for these children.
At home, she said provision of social amenities, must be available and close by so that, women and girls will not have to walk far to access them.
Women’s Rights and Campaigns Manager at ActionAid Ghana, Margaret Brew-Ward, said women contribute greatlyby way of tax saying it will be in the interest of government to use some of these taxes to provide the necessary infrastructure, social amenities,public service, to ease the burden on women.
Mrs Brew-Ward, emphasized the need for government to reduce the level of public-private partnerships so that some of it responsibilities and essential servicesare not shifted to private institutions and individuals, who may not be able to provide these things or may come at a higher cost which may not be afforded to these women.
She said, one of the aims of the dialogue will be to discuss whether or not they can get government or the metropolitan assemblies, to factor it in their programmes for implementation. An official from the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) Bernice Serwah Ofosu-Baadu, said it was important the campaign is being intensified saying it started in 1995 during the popular Beijing Conference.
She said at the global level, some rough estimates were made to highlight the problem adding that if these unpaid activities were treated as market transactions at the prevailing wages, they would yield huge monetary valuation at a staggering $16trillion.