SDG target: Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure, and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate.
We were already a long way from closing gender gaps in unpaid care work: Globally, women did nearly three times as much unpaid care and domestic work as men. Now, COVID-19 has increased the total amount of unpaid care work for everyone: more child care, more home health care, more food to cook, more mess to clean.
Men are doing more than ever before, but data suggests that women’s unpaid care work has increased just as much, if not more. According to early data from Europe, women are spending 29 more hours per week, compared to 25 hours spent by men. We’ve seen this pattern before, during Ebola and Zika, and in those cases there was a long-term impact on girls’ schooling, women’s employment, and other SDGs.
In this moment of disruption, governments need to enact policies to push families toward a more equitable distribution of paid and unpaid work. Countries such as Australia, Italy, and Fiji are showing the way by providing new or expanded family and medical leave benefits for employees.