Globally, women spend up to 10 times more time on unpaid care and domestic work than men, according to a report released Wednesday at the 2019 Women Deliver Conference in Vancouver.
The “State of the World’s Fathers” report was produced by gender equality organization Promundo with Dove Men+Care, and it looked specifically at the amount of time men and women spent on unpaid care, such as caring for children or family members and taking care of household tasks.
In the report, 85% of fathers said they would do anything to be very involved in caring for their new child — but research revealed that they are still taking on much less than mothers.
“We’ve made extremely little progress,” Gary Barker, president and CEO of Promundo, said at a press conference. “Men have increased their time in unpaid care by a whole seven minutes.”
Researchers collected data from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Netherlands, the UK, and the US. They calculated that if women did 50 minutes less per day of unpaid care work, and men did 50 minutes more, middle- and upper-income countries would see a big impact in achieving equality in unpaid care.
Barker added that not only does no country have men doing 50% of unpaid care, but no country has officially committed to working toward it — which is why Promundo launched the Men Care Commitment for Governments this week with support from Women Deliver.
The MenCare Commitment calls for commitments from governments for better parental leave, child care, health policies, communications campaigns, and data collection. Promundo hopes to have at least 50 governments sign on, and is looking to employers and civil society to commit to change, too.
The report identified three major obstacles that need to be fixed if men are going to take on a more active role in unpaid care. First, there is a lack of sufficient paid paternity leave, and when it is available, it’s not used enough.
Only 48% of the world’s countries offer paid paternity leave, and even when it is offered, sometimes it’s only a few days, the report said. Less than half of fathers took as much time as they were actually allowed.
“We saw that when men are involved from the beginning, they become active caregivers over the course of their child’s lifetime and that paternity leave really benefits everyone,” Molly Kennedy, senior brand manager at Dove Men+Care, said at the press conference.
Next the report points to the existing stereotype that women are better caregivers, combined with restricting gender norms. The report noted that men generally rely much more on their female partners for knowledge and information on parenting.
Lastly, the report point to a lack of economic security and government support for all caregivers and parents. Up to 76% of mothers and 59% of fathers cited financial barriers as the main reason for not taking more parental leave.
Brian Heilman, the senior research officer at Promundo, said that he hopes everyone can see their own stories and wishes reflected in this research.
“We’re not talking about some aloof, scientific topic that … none of us can relate to,” Heilman said at the press conference. “We’re talking about real matter of the heart, a matter that we think about and interact with on a daily basis.”