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Activists push for payment to women for domestic work

A woman washing clothes

A woman washing clothes

Gender activists are advocating for the recognition of unpaid caregiving and domestic work.

Unpaid care and domestic work, which includes tasks such as child and elder care, cooking, cleaning, fetching firewood and water among others is predominantly performed by women and girls. Despite its critical importance in supporting households and the economy, this activity is usually ignored in economic assessments and policy-making.

According to Rita Aciro, executive director of the Uganda Women's Network, unpaid caregiving is the backbone of society but is still overlooked and underappreciated. She adds that substantial potential and financial worth can be realized with even a small bit of assistance for those working in this "overlooked sector."

"We must acknowledge the significant contributions of those undertaking these tasks and offer the support needed to alleviate their burdens...Measures to be implemented include financial compensation, social security benefits, access to quality childcare and elderly care services, flexible work arrangements, and improved parental leave policies to assist those balancing paid employment with domestic responsibilities," said Aciro.

Activists say domestic should be recognised and be paid for
Activists say domestic should be recognised and be paid for

Angela Nakafeero, commissioner for Gender at the ministry of Gender Culture and Social Development, used a picture to illustrate the harsh reality of unpaid caregiving. The photo depicted a scene familiar to many; a mother stands by a charcoal stove, tending to a pot. A heap of laundry waits to be washed, while two young children are confined to a basin, likely to keep them safe. A lone broom in the corner silently announces the never-ending cycle of domestic chores.

The commissioner said that the topic of assisted care has been deliberated in cabinet. She quoted President Yoweri Museveni as saying, "Who is going to pay for this work?" during one of the sessions.

Nakafeero, added that previously there has been a misunderstanding on the matter, with the public misreading the advocates of unpaid care as if they are suggesting that spouses, mainly husbands, should pay in monetary terms to women for the work done at home.

“Paying would be good, but that is not all we are advocating. This issue is bigger. For the spouses, they can put conditions at home that help each other to reduce the burden. It begins with a simple recognition, possible redistribution of the work persons at home both men and women to reduce its burden from one party,” Nakafeero noted.

According to Aciro, if the burden is left to one person, it robs them of the time they could have used to involve themselves in other economic and personal development activities, thus preventing them from reaching their full potential in areas they could have served better.

“Statistics show that women are more; possibly 51 per cent of the population. The majority are locked in unpaid care and domestic work. That is already a loss to the economy before we compute productive time lost. This is not about women alone; there are also some men involved in this too,” she added. 

Sarah Agwang, director of programs at UWONET, emphasized the critical role of the government in alleviating the burden of unpaid care and domestic work.

"The government needs to implement support systems that bring essential services closer to the people," she stated.

Agwang highlighted the importance of social protection mechanisms, such as childcare services and family leave policies, to support caregivers. She also called for improved infrastructure, including healthcare services, childcare facilities, and transportation networks.

Sarah Opendi, chairperson Uganda Women Parliamentary Association, underscored the transformative impact support systems can have on reducing the burden faced by those providing unpaid care and domestic work.

“The government is challenged to invest in areas that can help to reduce the burden. more funds should be put in areas that support those offering unpaid care. from simple things of extending clean water to homes, making electricity cheaper, establishing early childhood centres,” Opendi noted.

Florence Asiimwe Akiiki, Woman MP for Masindi and executive director of the National Association of Women's Organisations in Uganda, suggested that investing in technology and better products can significantly reduce the burden of unpaid care work.

"Leveraging technology with creatively designed, purpose-specific labour-saving products is crucial," she stated. "For instance, households can save time by using washing machines for laundry, and collecting water in tanks during rainy seasons can eliminate the need for long trips to fetch water."

She added that new technologies could help challenge traditional gender norms.

"If a man cannot prepare or light up a cooking stove, having electricity and a simple cooker means he can easily help by just switching it on,” she noted.

She stressed that these solutions and technologies need to be made available and accessible to both rural and urban populations. A survey by the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) indicated that in Uganda, women and girls spend around twenty hours per week on unpaid care work - twice as much time as men and boys. This disproportionate burden limits their ability to participate in paid employment.

The findings showed that, on average, women spent 32 hours weekly on unpaid care work and 21 hours weekly on unpaid production of products for home consumption, while men spent 20 and 10 hours per week respectively.

At a global scale, over 75 per cent of unpaid care work is done by women, and the economic value of all the unpaid care that women over 15 years old provide is an astounding $10.8 trillion.      


+1 #1 AT 2024-06-14 09:43
These activists are western influenced, and they are insane. Stop listening to them.
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+3 #2 Lakwena 2024-06-14 13:56
In other words, who should pay for the domestic work, such as: cooking washing dishes and kids clothes etc.

Unless they just want to be whining, noisy and useless/valueless being; without the money, what do some women want to do with their lives?

I suppose these women activists must be either from dysfunctional family background, or simply jealous home-breakers (screaming Femi-Nazis).

Otherwise, just do not marry and/or have children. In that way you can only work and pay yourself, and end up valueless/useless (without a purpose) like the "Homosexuals".

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+1 #3 J 2024-06-14 15:31
So I pay her for domestic work; will she pay me for the food she eats, lodging in my house & any other things e.g. clothes I buy her?

There are more than enough problems in society; these activists, their foreighn agenda & backers not withstanding, should leave us,our society and culture alone.
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0 #4 Allan 2024-06-15 14:46
This is ridiculous. These activists are trying to justify their donor funding.

This is a misconceived and misplaced idea and is generally not fit for the society we live today. Family is a voluntary union and not a business transaction. What happens if the man can't pay for the so-called labour?

What happens if my neighbour pays his spouse more than I do and she feels cheated? Does this give me lee way to marry as many wives so as to meet my Labour needs?
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0 #5 Francis Okello 2024-06-15 19:15
This article doesn’t grasp Ugandan cultural complexity and oversimplifies the socio-economic factors of unpaid work.

Though essential to prioritize gender disparities in household chores, be cautious to acknowledge cultural heterogeneity.

The economic argument, predicated on enhancing productivity by redistributing and recognizing domestic work, doesn’t consider the humanity aspect, oversimplifying Uganda’s gender disparities and variations, which could lead to considerable gender-related social isolation or overlook other factors for gender inequality (education access, legal rights..).

Also, potential solutions, e.g., technology adaptation, should consider hurdles, e.g., restricted electricity access and technology, and cultural readiness to accept such change.

Thus, gender activism must be inclusive to succeed, drawing, respecting, and reinforcing good, family-centered African values. Don't simply import, but also export the good African family values..
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0 #6 Akot 2024-06-17 13:18
[Activists push for payment to women for domestic work]

Activists should know that Uganda female domestic workers have sex & children with men of families they work for & this includes Ambassadors, foreigners working & earning well in Uganda!

Uganda married women know thyat the female domestic workers are also the other wifves & mothers of children of their husbands!

Female domestic workers must all be sisters, nieces of hisbands & payed correctly!

Ugandans, I have been out for a while, but haven't forgotten Uganda & what I saw, knew & knows things haven't changed!
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