Kampihan sa Tahanan: Care Sessions on Unpaid Care and Domestic Work

Paper publication date: 
Friday, October 1, 2021

What is unpaid care and domestic work (UCDW)? 

UCDW may refer to three things: 1) direct and indirect care of persons, 2) household chores, and 3) community volunteer work.3 The 2017 Oxfam National Household Care Survey found out that Filipino women were spending 12 hours daily on care work while men were only spending five hours doing the same.4 Four years after, in 2021, another study by Oxfam was conducted to account for Filipinos’ care work during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when the majority were forced to stay and work from home.5 It was noted that women’s care work increased to 13 hours a day while men’s care work increased to eight hours a day.6 The increase in men’s care work hours was expected since most of them were working from home during the pandemic.7 However, if this is the case, why did women’s care work hours increase even with men’s participation? How did 12 hours of care work become the minimum for women before and during the pandemic? The Oxfam studies showed the following major points: a) the load of unpaid care and domestic work doubled or tripled during the pandemic, b) women and young girls were continuously being burdened with an overload of unpaid care and domestic work even with an impending crisis, and c) UCDW persisted to be invisible and unrecognized by many.

Why do we need to talk about UCDW? 

UCDW is a gender and human rights issue. Prevailing societal beliefs or norms assign men to productive work (paid work) and women to reproductive work (care work). Such practice is simply based on one’s gender. Socially constructed gender norms dictate the kind of roles and activities in which men and women should be engaged. This social designation is harmful to women and young girls who are assigned to do the bulk of UCDW, leaving them no more time to pursue productive and recreational activities. Several studies have cited that UCDW is one of the reasons why labor force participation rates of women in several countries are low.8 Should women who do the bulk of UCDW find work opportunities, they may be limited to part-time or home-based informal work.

What society sees, understands and promotes as “normal” work of women actually hinders their human rights especially if what they do is not valued, appreciated and recognized as “work.” An overload of UCDW becomes a barrier to women’s economic empowerment and may discourage them from pursuing opportunities of their choice.

What is the campaign all about? 

Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK) and Oxfam are partners in the “Influencing Gender Norms in the time of COVID-19” project. It is a six-month campaign funded by Oxfam Pilipinas which challenges inequality, structures, norms and values that are central in advancing women’s rights and economic access and empowerment. In this campaign, PKKK will be conducting seven care sessions or awareness-raising sessions about UCDW, where the seventh session focuses on gender norms and UCDW.

The title of the care sessions, “Kampihan sa Tahanan,” emphasizes sharing care work at home. The word “kampihan,” in this sense, deviates from the usual competitive connotation and is refocused to mean forging alliances. Because UCDW is connected to other issues or factors, it becomes a matter of concern that extends from the home to the public sphere. In this context, “Kampihan sa Tahanan” means forging alliances within and outside the home and emphasizing that UCDW should be everyone’s responsibility. It is with everyone’s help and care that the rights of women and girls can be fulfilled.

How is the training module organized? 

This document contains the modules for each of the sessions. Each care session builds on the concept and experience of UCDW during the pandemic from the perspective of BPO employees, the target participants of these sessions. The modules were influenced by feminist values and designed with a human rights framework and an empowerment framework in mind. Each care session may be treated as stand-alone activities, but they are best conducted or presented as six connected sessions so that the target participants can participate and reflect on the many intricacies tied to the concept and experience of UCDW particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.