URIDU Health Family Work

What are common conflicts over household chores?

In many countries, women alone, are traditionally responsible for looking after the home.

Women take care of their husbands, his parents or other relatives, their children and the sick and elderly. They gather firewood and water for drinking, they do the cooking and washing, they do the cleaning, the gardening, the crop farming, and often they take care of any animals the family may have.

Lack of access to childcare facilities and/or health and support services in many regions of the world means that caring for family members, in addition to her other household chores, can take up a huge amount of a woman’s time and can severely limit her ability to take on paid employment.

These “household chores” can be a huge burden for a woman who is strong and healthy and has the whole day to devote to them. They can also severely limit a woman’s ability to take on paid employment and the volume of work may become impossible for a woman to deal with if she is weak or becomes ill.

When women ask their husbands for help it is often denied them on the grounds that “household chores” are considered to be ”woman‘s work“ - even if the women also work away from home to help support their families financially.

Studies have shown that women in developing countries, on average, spend three hours per day more than men on unpaid work such as household chores and on caring for children and elderly relatives. The studies also show that women with many young children may find it especially difficult to meet all the demands on their time.

Furthermore, whilst in many countries women are most often responsible for running the home, raising the children and for primary care giving, they have little influence over important household decisions or household expenditure and they often feel excluded from these decisions.

So, frequently, the burden of domestic work and of childcare falls on women whilst the important decisions are made exclusively by men, which is not a fair situation and can lead to many conflicts between partners.