• Nov 30, 2021 . 2 min Read
  • Women activists rise up against unpaid care work  in homes

Some of the participants. Photos by Ritah Mukasa
Ritah Mukasa
Journalist @New Vision

The COVID-19 pandemic posed enormous challenges to different people but it was worse for several women.

With the lockdown restrictions, families were confined to their homes for several months. This came with a double burden to the women; mothers and girls who were required to provide unpaid work all in the name of caring for the family. 
Allana Kembabazi, a panelist during the discussion

Allana Kembabazi, a panelist during the discussion

It was against that background that a group of women from East Africa came together to discuss the issue of unpaid-for-care work.  These included journalists, women’s rights leaders, and other professionals.

This was at the E-Regional conference organized by Femme Forte Uganda in partnership with Groots (Kenya) and the Maasai Women’s Development Organization (Tanzania) with support from Urgent Action Fund on Friday.
It was under the theme; The care crisis and the implications of COVID-19 on economic justice and unpaid care work.

Penelope Sanyu, the chief steward at Femme Forte explained that the rising demand for care brought about by the pandemic and its response has stretched the already existing disparity in the gender division of labour. This places a disproportionate burden on women and girls. 

She added that the conference sought to provide a platform for women affected by COVID-19 to share their experiences from each country and to reveal the existing inequalities against caregivers. They also aimed to enhance public discourse on suitable policy and practice in this regard and amplify the collective voice and advocacy on approaches to care work.

The conference was both physical and virtual. It was hosted at Mestil hotel in Kampala but the conversation continued online on social media platforms.

Esupat Ngulupa Laizer, a panelist from Tanzania said women do a lot of work for the wellbeing of the families but they should stop taking their efforts for granted.

She suggests women change their mindset and appreciate that they are workers, not just housewives. 

Jackie Asiimwe of the Civsource Africa appealed to East Africans to see and appreciate the invisible hands of women who are holding the economies of their countries. 

Atim Sheila Gloria, another activist said a policy may not be enough and therefore, laws must follow it. 

“Parliament representatives should translate the problems into law. A bill should then put in place to find solutions to the unpaid care work issue,” she suggested.

Jael Esther Amati, a Kenyan panelist advocated for the need to fast track and celebrate policies that enhance the equality of men and women.
Penelope Sanyu, the chief steward at Femme Forte

Penelope Sanyu, the chief steward at Femme Forte

Sanyu added that in addition to the unpaid work, women earn low income which leads to less savings, job insecurity, and poverty.

She added that if sustainable solutions are not found, the burden will worsen for women owing to the challenges faced by health and care systems, an ever-widening socio-economic divide, and deepening inequalities in social, political, and economic systems. 

The focus on unpaid care work, especially within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), echoes the Beijing platform’s call for greater visibility, better measurements, and social recognition of women’s economic empowerment.

“The progress made on the same however is at risk of being overturned,” Sanyu noted.


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