To shed light on the current situation of unpaid care work in Filipino homes, especially among urban millennials in the BPO sector, Oxfam Pilipinas, with the support of Investing in Women, commissioned The Women and Gender Institute (WAGI) of Miriam College to conduct a study on the issue.
The study officially launched Tuesday (March 29) showed that Filipino women are still bearing the brunt of unpaid care work, resulting in many of them juggling full-time work and a “second shift” at home tending to backbreaking household chores and caring for family members.
“Findings from the research, which involved 232 respondents, confirm that traditional gender norms or stereotypes surrounding unpaid care work and breadwinning still persist in this day and age. Women are still pressured to do more household chores and care work even while working full-time. Men are also still expected to be primary breadwinners of households,” said Leah Payud, Oxfam Pilipinas Resilience Portfolio Manager.
Payud added, “Nevertheless, there’s a lot of potential for positive changes to occur among urban millennials. Also, due to the high rate of women employed in BPOs, the industry is a promising area to begin shifting gender norms for the better.”
WAGI and Oxfam Pilipinas, which has supported several surveys and studies on gender rights in the Philippines, conducted the Action Research “Addressing Gender Norms on Unpaid Care, Domestic Work and Breadwinning in the time of COVID-19” as women breadwinners have been experiencing longer hours doing household chores and caring for their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oxfam previously released a household survey showing that men spent more hours doing unpaid care work during the pandemic. However, women still shouldered the bulk of the tasks.
Of the 232 respondents of the 2022 action research, all were full-time BPO employees and nearly half were household heads. Majority (78%) are from Metro Manila, 15% are from Metro Cebu and the rest are from other parts of the country. There were a select number of the respondents who were also in focus group discussions.
During the launch of the research, attended by Investing in Women, representatives from the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (Region VIII), and Philippine Commission on Women, Oxfam Pilipinas shared the results of WAGI’s action research with professionals within the BPO sector, gender and inclusion advocates, as well as key stakeholders.
Persistent Gender Norms When it Comes to Breadwinning and Unpaid Care Work
Key findings from Oxfam Pilipinas and WAGI’s research indicate that:
- Women still take on much of the responsibilities in the home, such as unpaid care work and household chores.
- Breadwinning is still a responsibility mostly taken up by men but urban millennials believe women can also be breadwinners.
- Women continue to be held against very high standards, especially when seeking to apply for traditionally male roles.
- The traditional gender norm that men are preferable leaders compared to women — because men are seen as decisive, intentional and strong whereas women are seen as tentative, emotional and indecisive — remains pervasive.
- Workplace discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation and gender identity still happens.
- Balancing work responsibilities with unpaid care and domestic responsibilities has been difficult throughout the pandemic.
Positive Shifts and the Way Towards a More Equitable Future
The research also identified areas for potential positive changes.
“We’ve seen through the study that more women are taking on breadwinner roles. Other family members are also now contributing to unpaid care work to help their parents,” Payud said.
Taking into consideration the issues raised by the respondents, the study suggested the following recommendations:
- Promote gender equality in the workplace to support women breadwinning
- Ensure diversity among staff by assessing existing job descriptions and requirements and change them to expand pool of applicants;
- Ensure better representation of women in leadership roles;
- Mainstream unpaid care and domestic work through workplace gender equality programs, including allowing flexible working hours for both men and women employees and extending parental leaves.
- Setting goals for changing gender norms:
- emphasizing the need for men to do their fair share of unpaid care work;
- advocating for national policies that support men in the workplace who do unpaid care work; and
- putting more mechanisms in place that support community care work (community kitchens, day care, etc.).
- Institutional support for women breadwinners must take into account men who receive women’s financial support, through campaigns and workshops that guide them on how to be a man in a more gender-equal society.
- The need to design strategies based on the potential positive changes identified in the study, e.g. unpaid care work involves life-sustaining (not gendered) skills.
- Further research on unpaid care work that takes into consideration social class, financial status, and nonbinary and LGBTQIA+ people.
Now that there is preliminary understanding on the perceptions and situations of Filipino urban millennial couples at home, Oxfam believes there is a need for further research and surveys. Factors such as social class or financial status needs to be taken into consideration.
“We also need to make more visible the challenges faced by non-binary and LGBTQIA+ community members,” Payud said.
“Hopefully through our joint work with the government and other organizations, we can raise the awareness about the burden of unpaid care work — how it should be recognized as real work and how those who take on the task should be supported by their families and society,” the Oxfam official said. \\
FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES AND COORDINATION:
Kristine Sabillo Guerrero | Senior Officer for Media and Digital Influencing, Oxfam Pilipinas