Experts call for recognition of unpaid care work to drive technological investment

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Experts call for recognition of unpaid care work to drive technological investment
Rita Aciro, Executive Director of Uganda Women's Network (UWONET) speaking during the engagement

The Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development has emphasised the importance of acknowledging unpaid care work as a means to encourage investment in technologies and services that alleviate the burden of household and community tasks.

This call was made during a high-level dialogue on unpaid care and domestic work held in Kampala.

The Commissioner for Gender and Women Affairs at the Ministry, Angela Nakafeero highlighted the need to invest in alternatives such as machinery and technologies like biogas, as well as reducing costs for essentials like electricity and cooking gas. These measures would help decrease the time spent on care work at home.

"Given that 90% of Ugandans rely on charcoal fires for cooking, recognizing care work and ensuring the sustainability of our green and forest cover requires investments in technologies that alleviate the burden on our environment," she explained.

She further emphasized the importance of affordable and widespread technology distribution, both in rural and urban areas.

Experts have pointed out that unpaid care and domestic work pose significant challenges in Uganda, affecting not only individuals but also society as a whole.

Rita Aciro, Executive Director of Uganda Women's Network (UWONET), highlighted the essential nature of unpaid care and domestic work, which includes tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and childcare. These activities play a crucial role in the well-being of individuals, families, and communities.

Aciro noted that time poverty, where women and girls spend more than four hours a day on unpaid care and domestic work, limits their opportunities for education, employment, and personal development.

She further explained that the lack of state provision, regulation, and funding for formal services related to domestic and care work exacerbates the burden on communities, families, and particularly women and girls. This leads to increased poverty, reduced economic opportunities, and decreased social mobility.

Aciro emphasised that unpaid care and domestic work, despite its significance, is often undervalued and overlooked.

Studies reveal that globally, women perform over 75% of unpaid care work, which amounts to a staggering value of USD 10.8 trillion for women over 15 years.

Aciro emphasized that these figures highlight the critical role of unpaid care and domestic work in the economy, yet it remains undervalued and unrecognized.

"More women and girls are shouldering the responsibility of providing essential care services, which historically fell under the purview of the state, but with little support. The routine tasks required to maintain households are laborious and time-consuming due to the lack of assistance," she stated.

She further disclosed that in Uganda, this situation has resulted in reduced productivity, lower earning potential, and limited personal growth.

To address these challenges, Aciro urged governments and institutions to implement policies promoting gender equality in education, employment, and leadership positions.

She also stressed the importance of developing social protection mechanisms, such as childcare services and family leave policies, to support caregivers. Additionally, infrastructure supporting caregivers, including healthcare services, childcare facilities, and transportation networks, should be developed.

By recognizing and addressing the significance of unpaid care work, society can pave the way for sustainable development and gender equality.

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