Regional forum tackles impact of  changing climate on care work

Photo: Oxfam Pilipinas

A regional forum organized in Ormoc City shed light on how climate change deepens gender inequalities particularly the unequal distribution of unpaid care and domestic work among women and girls.

The activity, which happened in time during the 10th year commemoration of Super Typhoon Yolanda in Leyte on November 8, examined the impacts of climate and disaster risks ,on  women who typically shoulder the disproportionate burden of caregiving roles such as taking care of children and who carry out domestic work amid the stress of emergency situations.

Oxfam Pilipinas Executive Director Erika Geronimo emphasized the disproportionate impacts of the climate crisis on women and girls.

“The climate crisis affects us all, but never equally. Women and girls bear the harshest brunt of climate disasters, often carrying the heaviest burden of unpaid care work. We need to make the invisible care work visible and make it an integral and crucial component when we think of solutions to climate change,” Geronimo said.

Unpaid care and domestic work encompass all unpaid services provided within households, including direct and indirect care of individuals, housework, and voluntary community work. Women and girls often bear the overwhelming burden of unpaid care and domestic work, a challenge that is exacerbated during disasters.

“Ten years after Yolanda, we know that there will be more severe and frequent disasters that will further push the most marginalized communities deeper into poverty. We need to put the most affected people and communities at the heart and start of all decisions and response actions that affect them,” Oxfam Pilipinas Ambassador for Resilience Antoinette Taus said.

The 2021 National Household Care Survey jointly conducted by Oxfam Pilipinas, UN Women, and the Philippine Commission on Women reveals that during the pandemic, women’s time spent on care work, including supervision of children and elderly family members, has increased to 13 hours a day, compared to only eight hours for men.

The two-day regional event brought together representatives from civil society organizations, local government units, and national government agencies to examine existing policies aimed at recognizing, reducing, representing, and redistributing the amount of unpaid care and domestic work in the country. Discussions revolved around challenges and recommendations for improvements, particularly in the context of climate crises.

Local policies valuing care work

The local government unit of Quinapondan, Eastern Samar, shared their pioneering Women’s Economic Empowerment and Care Ordinance, which recognizes care work as a vital aspect of the local economy. This ordinance includes provisions acknowledging the public responsibility for facilitating unpaid care and domestic work through investments in infrastructure and care services.

“As champions of women’s rights and gender equality, we are committed to advancing the cause of recognizing, reducing, and redistributing unpaid care work. Our Women’s Economic Empowerment and Care Ordinance is a step towards creating a more equitable society,” Quinapondan Town Vice Mayor Jasper Leo Candido.

As of March 2021, Quinapondan and Salcedo in Eastern Samar along with at least 26 other local government units, have enacted their respective ordinances on unpaid care, committing to allocate gender and development budgets specifically for care-related services, such as barangay daycare centers, market roads, and community laundry areas.

The consultation in Eastern Visayas is part of a series of regional consultations following the national consultation held in Quezon City last September.

The Valuing and Investing in Unpaid Care and Domestic Work Regional Summit in Ormoc City was organized by the Philippine Commission on Women, National Economic Development Authority Region 8, Oxfam Pilipinas, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), and the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM).

The recommendations from the consultations will be consolidated to formulate a national policy on unpaid care and domestic work in the Philippines.