The Triple burden and triple role of women

The triple burden faced by women as a result of their triple role in society is a major barrier to women's economic empowerment. Women's work includes reproductive work (domestic work, child caring and rearing, adult care, caring for the sick, water and fuel related work, health related work), productive work (work for income and subsistence, including work in informal sector enterprises either at home or the neighborhood, formal employment) and community managing work ( includes activities primarily undertaken by women at the community level around the provision of items of collective consumption). This gender division of labour perpetuates women's subordination and prevents them from realizing their full potential and enjoying their human rights. women primarily perfom reproductive work, while in many societies it is not considered as "real" work, it is time consuming, demanding and tedious. This division of labour based on sex and time demands has confined women to the private sphere and inhibited women from venturing into other economic enterprises. Rogers refers to the "domestication of women" and argues that the domestic ideology has reinforced the identification of the domestic sphere and the house as the woman's place. As such reproductive work is naturally considered women's work. Domestic work has no clear demarcations between and leisure, it is without beginning and end and in many societies women tend to work longer hours than men. A critical issue concerning reproductive work is the lack of recognition of the economic cost which has resulted in it being undervalued, unpaid and its invisibility. Of crucial importance is to recognize this as work and the obstacles it presence for women's economic empowerment. Measures need to be put in place to lessen women's workload and reduce the time burden posed by reproductive work. There is urgent need to improve women's condition at the household level and assist them in their traditional roles to create more time for them to embark on income generating enterprises. However improving their condition needs to done in a transformative way, that challenges the gender division of labour and women's subordination to men in society. This call for women to know their rights, organize and mobilize and challenge injustice.

The fact that in many societies women play the triple role, experience the triple burden and are primarily responsible for the reproductive work calls for the provision of more gender responsive public services such as water, electricity, heath, education. The availability of gender responsive public services will go a long way in lessening their burden at the household level and contribute to their economic empowerment.

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Unpaid (care) work
  • Dr Rejoice Shumba
    Interesting topic, thanks Tonnie

    The division of labour in the home needs to be revisited and revised to allow for a fair distribution of duties to allow women to participate fully in the market instead of only fully participating in the home.
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