Women's unpaid work worth trillions of pesos – PIDS study

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) believes the worth of unpaid work done by women is in the trillions of pesos.

PIDS released last Tuesday, April 2, the results of a study discussed in a seminar held on March 13 by senior research fellow Michael Abrigo. According to Abrigo, the monetary value of the time women spent doing housework – from caring for children and the elderly, to cleaning, cooking, and washing – can make up about 20% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).. 

“We want to bring home the message that there’s value (in) housework — that it doesn’t mean that (women’s) time spent inside the house doing chores has no value. We want to convert these time units into monetary units,” Abrigo said in a mix of Filipino and English. 

Using the National Transfer Account (NTA) and the National Time Transfer Account (NTTA) – which compute the productive activities within the production boundaries of the GDP and the time spent on unpaid work, respectively – Abrigo and his coauthor placed a value on unpaid work based on 2015 data. 

The paid work of both sexes was vaued at P9.3 trillion, while the unpaid work was at P2.5 trillion, with women contributing 40% to the former and 76% to the latter. 

Women's participation in the labor force

According to an assessment by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) released in January 2019, some 60% – or 43.0 million – of an estimated 71.6 million population 15 years old and over were employed as of July 2018, and 6 out of 10 of those employed were male.

Additionally, 40% percent of the 71.6 million population aged 15 years old and over in July 2018 were not in the labor force, and the figures included housewives, students, persons with disability, as well as retirees. The report said 67.2% of thesewere women.

Abrego argued that women should be encouraged to join the workforce.

However, the need to devote time inside their home hinders them from working outside. Based on regression analyses, mothers who spent more time working outside their homes were more likely to have children who were not attending school, or were lagging behind their peers. Other studies showed families of working mothers who spent less time at home tended to eat more outside or were less healthier.

“Para masagot natin yung tanong kung papaano natin maeengganyo ang mga babae na magtrabaho sa labas ng bahay, dapat masagot muna natin ang tanong kung paano makakatulong ang mga lalaki sa gawaing bahay. This way, mabibigyan natin ng oras ang babae para naman makatulong sa income ng pamilya," he stated.

(We can only entice women to work outside if we already have an answer to how their spouses can help them with housework. This way, women can provide hours of work to help with family income.)

The working hours of men and women have also moved closer towards parity in the past 25 years, according to Abrigo. Men who used to work about 40 hours per week now work about 5 less hours, while women, especially those beyond reproductive ages, have increased their number of hours worked weekly by about 5 hours. 

Abrigo urged the government to find ways for more women to participate in the working force.

He cited the implementation of flexible working arrangements, telecommuting, and extended maternity leave as considerations to allow for this happen. – Rappler.com