Report: Unpaid Housework Adds Strains to Women's Career, Health

July 3, 2017
Editor: Alice Shang

Women are working more unpaid hours than men, leaving them less competitive in the workforce and impacting on their psychological well-being, according to a seminar report by Beijing Evening News.

More than 10 scholars from China and abroad recently participated in the seminar at Peking University to discuss the theme "Caring-economy, Social Gender and Comprehensive Growth".

Experts talked about the effects on women brought about by the Universal Two-Child Policy as well as the newly-reformed retirement policy, whilst attendant scholars gave their suggestions.

Research indicates that urban employed females work eight more hours a week than their counterparts on average, if unpaid family care is included.

Statistically, the time spent doing housework by working women is twice as long as men.

For the sake of family responsibilities, women are commonly the ones to bear the associated loss of earnings and encounter a glass ceiling in their career expectations.

Hurdled by out-dated mindsets, some Chinese husbands are less likely to help out with children and do household chores. Women have to be ready all the time to care for children.

Exhausted by unpaid work, females are more likely to be dragged into a trap of "time poverty", said speakers at the event.

Meanwhile, a shortage of public childcare services largely contributes to women's career sacrifice.

"A lack of normal childcare services boosts women's unwillingness to have a second baby," said He San, director of China Population and Development Research Center.

Being driven out of the workforce is not the only concern.

Without a job, females' pension benefits largely shrink. Unemployed females' psychological health is more fragile than those employed, as the former have to bear massive housework and uncertainty.

China's employment rate of working women over age 45 is higher than that in Japan and South Korea, researcher Dong Xiaoyuan said.

The expert suggested that grandmothers shoulder the childcare responsibility so that women can go to work.

"So far, economic contributions made by employed women accounts for 40 percent of household earnings in China whilst that figure in Japan is only around 20 percent," she added.

The researcher explained that men have a shared responsibility for raising children. Men are encouraged to do more childcare to foster a fairer division of housework.

National measures need to be taken to eliminate invisible hurdles that women have to face due to the reformed child policies.

Economic policies should take into consideration of females' roles in earning the bread and looking after children, participants in the discussion concluded.

(Source: China Women's News/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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