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Insights from time-use studies in Ethiopia, Ghana and Uganda

Gender and social norms in African countries result in a greater share of overall work on women than men. Notably, women and girls across the globe undertake a greater share of unpaid domestic and care work than men. This disparity has several implications. First, despite consuming women’s time and effort this work remains unremunerated. Second, by constraining women’s time, it limits their capacity to participate fully in paid work which has implications for women’s income, wealth, resource access and voice and bargaining power within households and the society at large. Moreover, when women and girls undertake both paid and unpaid work, they sacrifice rest and leisure. For young girls and girl children, work impacts their schooling and skills development.

The distribution of unpaid work between men and women, however, can change over time with changes in gender norms. Moreover, unpaid work can be reduced through technologies, access to markets and infrastructure. Drawing on PARI research on time use, this policy brief first presents the distribution of men’s and women’s time use between paid work, unpaid work and leisure and highlights the gendered patterns of its distribution in the rural households of Ethiopia, Ghana and Uganda. It further presents these patterns for children and their time in schooling and learning activities. Moreover, we show agricultural and domestic technologies along with access to infrastructure that can reduce unpaid work.

The policy brief is based on a series of country studies: