Prof. Paul Bakuluki of Makerere University’s Department of Social Work and Social Administration who was one of the investigators said men had started unpaid care work such as preparing food, fetching water and cleaning whereas their female counterparts are embracing non-traditional roles such as paying for food and meeting costs of health care.
A new study by the Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) has
found notable shifts where men are increasingly taking on care work that was
traditionally assigned to women. This is against the fact that previous data
has stipulated that women and girls spend twice as much time as men and boys in
unpaid care work.
Prof. Paul Bakuluki of
Makerere University’s Department of Social Work and Social Administration who
was one of the investigators said men had started unpaid care work such as
preparing food, fetching water and cleaning whereas their female counterparts
are embracing non-traditional roles such as paying for food and meeting costs
of health care.
While there’s this shift norm, fellow researcher Dr Grace Bantebya
Kyomuhendo says rural areas are still stuck with old norms with many men they
interacted with revealing fear of being bashed by fellow men as a reason as to
why they stayed away from work associated with women.
In their formative study in which researchers are mapping social
and gender norms associated with unpaid care work such that they can design
more inclusive recommendations for government intervention, they interviewed
family members, teachers and health workers in addition to the market and local
government leaders in districts of Mbarara, Pallisa, Masindi and Mpigi.
Bakuluki says that the concept of unpaid care work sounded new,
out of place or even awkward as some of the respondents said it wasn’t easy for
them to relate to payment for care for loved ones and family.
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This they say is a major hurdle towards the fulfillment of the
government policy in the current National Development Plan III which seeks to
expand women’s participation in the paid economy but remains silent on unpaid
In terms of formal labour participation rate according to
statistics by UBOS, males occupy 61.2% of the work against 44% for females.
Experts now say addressing the disproportionate burden of unpaid
care work will free women from gainful employment.
Speaking at the study launch, Angella Nakafeero, the Commissioner
in charge of women affairs in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social
Development said that there is a need to challenge social norms, values and
practices that result from the socialization process which burden women with
unpaid care work.
Sheikh Muhammad Ali Waiswa, the 2nd Deputy Mufti of Uganda warned
that researchers should go slowly when making recommendations to the government
as well as making indigenous communities understand unpaid care work not to
create conflict with already deep-rooted and progressive beliefs.
While this research is being conducted, Ritah Aciro a Women Rights
Activist said they have already been working to change the mindset of couples
especially with complaints that men tend to become violent when women are economical.
She says that have selected model families in the communities that
are used to preach to their peers the benefit of sharing roles and leveraging
on the good norms that already exist.
Researchers will now go into another phase where they will conduct
a baseline study to verify the norms, identify gaps and figure out
opportunities for intervention. The entire project that was launched in
April will be conducted within three years after which they will come up with
recommendations on how unpaid care can be rewarded both at home and at the workplace.