Concha recounts her experience during one of our group’s investigations: “It is difficult to take care of someone. The nights are long, you have to keep an eye on her. It’s exhausting. I have neck pain, dizziness, back problems, pain in my legs, and I can’t rest. very Difficult. I think there are very few men who are willing to do this.
at recent days United Nations General Assembly Announced on October 29 World Day of Care and Support. In its resolution, the United Nations acknowledged that unpaid care work still exists invisible and he Undervalued “Women and girls, including adolescent girls, bear a disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work from generation to generation, as well as the need to adopt measures to reduce, redistribute and value this type of work by promoting equal shared responsibilities among women.” . And the men are at home.”
During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, gender equality The world has gone back 35 years. He stated that World Economic ForumFor, in his report Global Gender Gap Report 2021“Another generation of women will have to wait to achieve gender equality,” she concluded. this Decline in equality This can be largely attributed to the consequences of the epidemic, and control measures, on care and its impact on women’s health and quality of life. An article published in the magazine The scalpel He mentioned that In the first year of the epidemic, women were more likely to lose their jobs and give up paid work To take care of people other than men. Despite the announcement that “the pandemic has put care at the centre,” the reality is that during this period, gender inequalities in care, which already existed in pre-pandemic times, have increased.
Care can be generally defined as those activities that help sustain human life. In a more restricted sense, unpaid care is the provision of care to dependent persons (minors, elderly, sick or dependents) by family members or other people in the close social circle, who do not receive financial compensation for the assistance they provide. In all cases, it includes both direct support tasks (assistance with daily activities) and so-called mental management (awareness, taking responsibility for…), which represents a mental burden closely linked to its consequences on health.
Unpaid care Strongly feminine, invisible and unrecognized, constitute the “hard core” of gender inequality in various fields, including in the field of health. the Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 Subordinate European Commission Reports indicate that there is an 11% gender employment gap in the EU, a 15% pay gap, and a 30% pension gap. These gaps are rooted in deep disparities in care: European women invest 22 hours a week in household tasks And care, while Men spend only 975% of informal caregivers are women. Gender stereotypes are one of the root causes of this inequality: 44% of Europeans believe that women’s most important role is to take care of the home and family, while 43% believe that men’s most important role is to earn money.
Spain is one of the countries with the most pronounced gender inequalities in care and where more intensive care is provided. A recent report from the European Commission, which includes data from before the pandemic, shows this The average number of hours of informal care was higher in the southern and eastern Member States, a maximum of 28 hours per week for women in Spain (21 for men), with more than 30% of female caregivers devoting more than 40 hours per week. The latest Disability, Personal Independence and Dependency Survey 2020 also highlights gender inequalities in care, and continues to indicate that female carers aged 45-64, the so-called “sandwich generation”, are the dominant figure .
Inequality in care is not only reflected in the fact that women bear a disproportionate burden of care responsibility; They also care more intensely, Lead More personal care tasks (more daily, painful and demanding) and take care of the face differently than men. The role of caregiver is naturally assumed by women (“this is their role”), while for men, caring is a “borrowed” role, which is not their role. These multiple inequalities entail a greater impact of care on women’s lives and health, which… They bear the brunt. Caregiving acts as a chronic stressor and constitutes a health risk factor. Already before the pandemic, scientific literature showed that the consequences of concern for health and other dimensions of life (employment, time use, social relationships, economics…) are more frequent for women.
The pandemic has deepened gender gaps in care and its consequences have been exacerbated: more people have become informal caregivers, hours of care have increased, They experienced more overload and stress His physical and mental health deteriorated. These consequences were particularly severe for women. Some studies in our country indicate that a year after the start of the pandemic, 45 out of every 100 women who are caregivers of dependent people rated their health as poorCompared to 30 out of every 100 men. They also frequently noted that their emotional health had deteriorated as a result of the pandemic.
Have we learned the lessons this pandemic has given us to reduce gender inequality? This could be a great opportunity to promote equality in the burden of care, between women and men, and between the family and the state. Some recommendations to achieve this could be: recognition, redistribution and reduction of care (the third goal proposed by UN Women); Develop a global care system (in line with the European Care Strategy); Democratization of care through shared responsibility of all agents and increased public care services; Increase men’s participation through specific policies and interventions and investigate further the importance and impact of gender roles in social emergency care.
Let’s take advantage of this World Care Day To highlight the enormous contributions of women to the well-being of populations, especially those of the most vulnerable and dependent groups, and to improve equality of care through specific measures of support and redistribution.
Maria del Mar Garcia Calvente She is a professor at the Andalusian School of Public Health and director of the Diploma in Gender and Health in Public Health.
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