Rhodina Cabrera – The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines — The non-government group Oxfam Pilipinas has commissioned a study that 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.
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.
“Findings from the research, which involved 232 respondents, confirmed 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 tasks.
Of the 232 respondents of the 2022 action research, all were full-time BPO employees and nearly half were household heads – 78 percent from Metro Manila, 15 percent from Metro Cebu and the rest from other parts of the country. There were a select number of respondents 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.
The research also showed that 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 study noted.
At the same time, Oxfam also pointed out that “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.”
The research also showed that balancing work responsibilities with unpaid care and domestic responsibilities has been difficult throughout the pandemic.
Payud added, “Workplace discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation and gender identity still happens.”
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.
The study’s recommendations included promotion of gender equality in the workplace to support women breadwinners; setting goals for changing gender norms; institutional support for women breadwinners, taking 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.
“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 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 added.