|Toward Gender Equality: The Role of Public Policy (WB, 1995, 88 p.)|
The link between the household and the labor market is particularly important. Specialization of labor within the household-whether individually chosen. socially determined. or legally induced-can accentuate gender inequalities in the formal and informal labor markets by leaving most of the unpaid work to women. This situation arises from convention rather than from comparative advantage Inadequate public and community services. transport. and housing also often have an uneven effect on the way men and women spend their time and can increase the demand for goods produced at home using unpaid labor (Moser 1994) Thus women may spend its much (or more time on unpaid work as on market work. In some countries this unpaid work contributes as much as one-third to the economy recorded GDP-and even mote to the welfare of poor families.
The amount of time women contribute to household production and maintenance, direct income generation. and family care combined is widely held to exceed that of men Analysis of data from Bangladesh. Botswana. Ghana. Kenya. Pakistan. the Philippines. and Zambia on how rural women spend their time confirms that, although use of time by women, and by different generations of women varies according to location. available technology. household characteristics. and cultural norms. gender bias in time use is widespread.
Women are generally responsible for collecting fuelwood and carrying water. Girls and alder women often do most of this work, although cultural norms in some countries affect women s mobility. The amount of time allocated to these activities is influenced by seasonal patterns of agricultural activity. the availability of substitute goods and services. and environmental changes. A study in Nepal, for instance, found that deforestation associated with a 75 percent rise in the time per trip would increase the time spent gathering fuelwood by 45 percent for all adults and by 50-60 percent for women.
In addition to fuel and water collection, child care is another activity that dominates women s time-although. considering the importance of children to future household welfare, the amount of direct time spent with children is limited. The seven-country study suggests that more time is spent on child cat-e in female-headed households. Female-headed households tend to have high dependency ratios and relatively large numbers of children, Implying more child-care time overall, but not necessarily on a per child basis. (Kumar and Hotchkiss 1988).
When a large proportion of women's use of time goes unrecorded the design of projects and policies can yield false evaluations of costs and benefits. For example, women's unpaid work may be assumed to have zero value. As a result, women's response to changing incentives may be predicted as being higher than their time constraints actually allow. Project benefits-such as the time saved by locating piped water close to homes or by expanding rural electrification-may also be undervalued. Conversely, the benefits of treeing up time may be far more significant than might have been thought. A study in Tanzania, for example. shows that relieving certain time constraints in a community of smallholder coffee and banana growers increases household cash incomes by 10 percent, labor productivity by 15 percent, and capital productivity by 44 percent (Tibaijuka 1994).