NSS Report Confirms Women Shoulder Unpaid Household Work, Care Giving Duties

While women spend nearly five hours a day in unpaid household duties, men spend just over an hour and a half, a Central government survey has found.

New Delhi: A first-of-its-kind survey by the Ministry of Statistics has supported the assertion that women shoulder most of the unpaid domestic services for members of the household and are the primary care-givers for dependent family members.

According to the Indian Express, for the survey, which was conducted between January and December 2019, 1.39 lakh households across the country and 4.47 lakh persons over the age of six were enumerated.

The NSS report ‘Time use in India’ survey was held to measure the participation and time dispositions of both men and women in paid and unpaid activities. It was conducted by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

It has revealed that only 38.2% of the Indian population participates in “employment and other related activities”, spending an average of 429 minutes (7 hours and 9 minutes) every day in these activities.

If this data is broken down for men and women, it shows that only 18.4% of women participate in employment activities, while the participation of men stood at 57.3%. The time spent on the activities also differs, with men spend on an average 459 minutes (7 hours and 39 minutes), while women spend 333 minutes (5 hours and 33 minutes).

In unpaid domestic services for members of the household, like cooking, cleaning, and household management, the participation of women stood at 81.2% daily, while it was only 26.1% for men. The time spent by women and men in these activities are also starkly different. While women spend 299 minutes, or almost 5 hours, on these activities, men spend 97 minutes or 1 hour 37 minutes.

In the case of care-giving activities to a dependent child or an adult in the household, the participation of men stood at a mere 14%. Men spend 76 minutes a day (1 hour and 16 minutes) in these activities. The share of women in such care-giving was double, at 27.6% and the time spent is also nearly double (2 hours 14 minutes a day).

The survey further shows that Indians do not prefer to work as unpaid volunteers or trainees or to take part in community or organisation-based unapid volunteering, according to the Indian Express. “Only 2.4% of the respondents said they volunteer for such work. The time spent on volunteering is around 101 minutes a day,” the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, the survey found that there is high participation in activities such as socialising and communication through chatting, conversing, community participation by taking part in gatherings and religious participation. Almost 92% of the respondents said they participated in these activities, spending on an average, 143 minutes each day.

Most people also reported that they participated in leisure activities like watching television. The survey found that 86.9% of the respondents watch TV, spending about 165 minutes on average every day.

Activists and women’s organisations have long said that India’s labour force statistics does not take into account the work put in by women in unpaid but essential activities. Writing in The Wire, Shiney Chakraborty said:

“Though each of these unpaid and allied activities are economic activities and help the household in numerous ways, a significant and increasing proportion of women engaged in them are left outside the purview of labour force statistics.”

She says these activities contribute to household income and the living condition and they cannot be undermined.