Gender parity at work only possible if men do more at home

Progress towards gender parity at work has barely budged for the past quarter century, and will only speed up once men take on far more unpaid caregiving tasks, the UN said Thursday, on the eve of International Women’s Day.

The UN’s International Labour Organization said in a fresh report that the difference in employment rates for men and women has shrunk by less than two percent in the past 27 years.

In 2018, women still remained 26 percentage points less likely to be in employment than men, despite opinion polls indicating that far more women would prefer to have a job than to stay at home, the report showed.

The ILO said there were a number of factors blocking equality in employment — the biggest being the heavy caregiving burden borne by women.

“In the last 20 years, the amount of time women spent on unpaid care and domestic work has hardly fallen, and men’s has increased by just eight minutes a day,” said Manuela Tomei, head of ILO’s Conditions of Work and Equality Department.

At this pace, she said, “it will take more than 200 years to achieve equality in time spent in unpaid care work”.

According to the ILO report, nearly 22 percent of women of working age worldwide — or 647 million — perform unpaid care work on a full-time basis, with the level as high as 60 percent in Arab states.

By comparison, only 41 million men — 1.5 percent of them — carry out such work on a full-time basis, the report found.

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