Unpaid Care Work in Kosovo

09 nëntor 2022 10:17

Care work is crucial to human well-being and social and economic development. It can be rewarding for the people who provide it and beneficial for individuals at the receiving end. Care provision usually takes place within the household and is mainly carried out by women, also known as unpaid care work.

How societies address unpaid care work has significant implications for gender equality. In order to dwell deeper into this issue, the Institute for Social Policy ‘Musine Kokalari’ (IPS) in Pristina conducted a country-wide quantitative and qualitative study on unpaid care work in Kosovo.

Unpaid care work refers to a wide range of activities that consists of direct and indirect care services for all members of a household, which can be categorized into two broad categories: Housework and care for others (i.e. childcare, elderly care, care for depended persons).

Housework involves cleaning, cooking, washing dishes or clothes, repairs, gardening and so on. Childcare involves activities like changing diapers, feeding and bathing, helping them with homework, and playing with them, among others. Elderly care and other forms of care for dependent persons (e.g. people with disabilities) involve activities such as taking them to the doctor, maintaining their medicine intake schedule, taking them on walks and talking to them and many other activities.

Developed countries possess large data sets on the inputs and outputs of unpaid care work and its implications. Globally, women provide the majority of unpaid care work with 76.2% of the total hours.

Existing data in 64 countries, comprising 66.9% of the world’s population in working age, shows that 16.4 billion hours per day are spent in unpaid care work. This equals to two billion full-time (40h/week) working people without financial compensation.

If monetary value is based on hourly minimum wage, data from 53 countries (63.5 % of the world’s population of working age) suggests that unpaid care work would amount to 9% of global GDP in 2011.

A country-wide time-use survey was carried out, as well as six focus group discussions to investigate Kosovo citizens’ perceptions of unpaid care work. The findings show that, on average, an individual in Kosovo spends 4.9 hours performing unpaid care work activities.

Women in Kosovo spend, on average, 6.2 hours per day performing unpaid care work activities, whereas men spend only 3.5 hours in similar activities. In other words, women spend 2.7 hours or 44% more time on unpaid care work than men.

It is important to note that in addition to the difference in time spent performing unpaid care work, women and men differ significantly in the type of activity they perform. For instance, women provide the majority of care services for children. Men, on the other hand, carry out specific forms of childcare; for example, they help their children do homework or take them to the doctor, but they usually do not change diapers.

To put it into perspective, women spend on average 94 days in unpaid care in one calendar year, whereas men spend an average of 55 days in unpaid care work.

Using an opportunity cost approach, the total estimated value of unpaid care work in Kosovo is €2.8 billion or 33% of Kosovo’s GDP.

Further, two multiple regression models were employed to explore the possible effects of unpaid care work on various demographic factors, the household economy and the labor market, which produced five crucial findings.

First, women provide the majority of unpaid care work. Second, employment for women is an important factor in reducing the time spent on unpaid care work. Third, the presence of elderly and dependent persons within the household significantly increases time spent on unpaid care work. Fourth, childcare is another substantial factor that increases time spent in unpaid care work. Fifth, the living area (rural or urban) determines the increase or decrease of time spent on unpaid care work.

The emerging theme in the focus group discussions was that housework, childcare and care for other persons are perceived as a woman’s responsibility. Men’s contribution is seen as ‘help’ for their wives, mothers or sisters.

The study advocates for unpaid care work’s recognition as a form of work in Kosovo. The recognition of unpaid care work as a form of labor leads to its measurement and policy being informed by it.

This way, care activities can be redistributed more equally between women and men; thus, transforming social norms and engaging men and boys in unpaid care work. Its reduction can be achieved by time-saving technologies, gender-responsive infrastructure and high-quality public services.

Finally, its representation in the social dialogue with the state, employers and trade unions would result in a care-centered approach to overall welfare policies.

Find the article in Albanian here.

09 nëntor 2022

Marigonë Drevinja