Gendered Patterns of Unpaid Care and Domestic Work in the Urban Informal Settlements of Nairobi, Kenya: Findings from a Household Care Survey 2019
Maina, Lucy W.
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Unpaid care and domestic work (UCDW) underpins all societies and contributes to wellbeing, social development and economic growth. Around the world, women spend disproportionately more time than men caring for children, the elderly and the sick, and on cooking, cleaning and household tasks. Yet, while UCDW contributes $10 trillion of output per year – roughly equivalent to 13% of global GDP (World Bank, 2012) – it remains largely invisible, unrecognized and absent from public policies. Positively, the adoption of ILO Resolution I concerning statistics on work relationships, will mean an estimated 650 million unpaid carers globally will be now be counted as part of the labour force. Women and girls’ greater responsibility for UCDW results in opportunity costs that can hinder their ability to enjoy their rights and freedoms to decent work, education, health, rest and leisure. The unequal distribution of UCDW between women and men further limits women’s opportunities for economic empowerment and political participation. Since 2013, Oxfam’s Women’s Economic Empowerment and Care (WE-Care) initiative has worked to produce new methodologies and context-specific evidence about care work to enable development actors and policy makers to address heavy and unequal care work for women and girls. WE-Care is currently implemented in six countries1 across South-East Asia and Africa, including Kenya, in partnership with national women’s rights organizations, civil society and the private sector. Between October 2018 and March 2019, Oxfam in Kenya commissioned a Household Care Survey (HCS) to understand household patterns of UCDW in the five informal settlements of Kibera, Mathare, Mukuru, Kawangware and Korogocho in Nairobi City. The objectives of this research were to: • Establish how UCDW is distributed between the sexes and age groups in the five informal settlements. • Understand mediating factors affecting the distribution of UCDW in households. • Explore women and men’s perceptions and attitudes towards UCDW, including its perceived social value. • Analyse household and individual characteristics and arrangements that facilitate or hinder the equal sharing of UCDW at household and community level. • Develop policy recommendations for government and key stakeholders to address UCDW. Locally, the Kenya HCS was anchored within Oxfam in Kenya’s Women Rights Programme’s urban interventions, which aim to ensure that people in urban areas are empowered and have choices and opportunities to live safe, secure and productive lives. The study was carried out under Oxfam’s WE-Care and Wezesha Jamii projects, the latter of which supports the economic empowerment of poor and vulnerable women domestic workers and small- scale traders in the informal settlements of Kibera, Mathare, Mukuru, Kawangware and Korogocho in Nairobi City. The HCS was carried out using a cross-sectional analytical survey design. Over 30,000 women engaged in the Wezesha Jamii project (20,000 women small-scale traders and 10,000 women domestic workers) were targeted. Male heads of households also constituted part of the study respondents, and were selected based on their partnership with or marriage to the women beneficiaries. A total of 328 women, 42 men and 93 children (48 male and 45 female) took part in the study. The low number of male respondents relative to females was a limitation of the survey, meaning that robust statistical testing using males could not be carried out. The findings and recommendations were validated with survey respondents, community representatives, civil society organizations and government stakeholders.