Chwarae Teg responds to research that shows women bear the brunt of housework and childcare during lockdown

27th May 2020

Responding to IFS research published today, Welsh gender equality charity Chwarae Teg has said that the Coronavirus crisis has exposed clear structural inequalities between men and women and has called for decisive action to be taken to address these going forwards. The research by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) and University College London (UCL), which was based on interviews with 3,500 families, showed that in households where both the mother and father are working, women are taking on more of the household responsibilities. The research showed that mothers were able to do only one hour of interrupted work, for every three hours done by fathers.

The Coronavirus crisis has exposed many of the deep structural inequalities that exist between women and men, and today’s research from the IFS and UCL is further evidence of that. It’s crucial that action is taken to ensure that as we move towards recovery, we address these inequalities to strengthen our economy and build back better.

“Women bear the majority of responsibility for child and elder care, and are often forced to balance this with work, which becomes even more difficult when external childcare is not available and parents are working from home. Not to mention the burden of care on vulnerable women including BAME women, disabled women and those living in poverty, which can be even more acute.

“Adding to this is the fact that due to inadequate childcare provision, the system is often propped up by informal family arrangements which are no longer available, and again often falls to older women within the family. This imbalance in the burden of caring responsibilities does not just cause problems during the current crisis, it is a significant factor leading to the gender pay gap and underpins inequality in our economy. Research we published last year highlighted that addressing this inequality in Wales could boost our economy by almost £14bn.

“It is clear that as we move towards recovery, governments and businesses need to look at how they can incentivise shared caring responsibilities and move away from old stereotypes around men and women’s roles within the household and at work. We also need to see a step change in how we view childcare to recognise how vital the provision of care is to our economy and daily lives. As we recover we must see increased investment in care to ensure that it is accessible and affordable to those who need it. Without changing the way we do things, we will see widening inequality and everyone will miss out on the potential economic benefits."

Helen Antoniazzi
Director of Policy and Communications, Chwarae Teg