Pandemic saw women do 173 more hours of child care last year

Last year saw a paradigm shift in the daily life of families globally, and new research shows that living in coronavirus pandemic limbo has proven inequitable for some at home.

Women, in particular, bore the brunt of the child care workload in 2020 — an additional 173 hours of work without pay, a new report claims, compared to an extra 59 hours for men, as work and school were taken home indefinitely.

In low and middle-income countries specifically, women took on an additional 217 hours of extra free labor, and men an added 70 hours.

In a study of global child care workload during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Center for Global Development gathered data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank and a number of international research organizations to reveal that women in low and middle-income countries were responsible for about three-quarters of the care load at home, while women in high-income countries took on about two-thirds of the care share.

That breaks down to an estimated 615 billion hours of unpaid child care.

The gaping workload disparity between women and men in low and middle-income countries is added stress on countries in crisis, such as India, where women toiled at 10 times the rate of men — that’s 360 hours for women and just 33 for men — the study found. At the same time, the number of dead from COVID-19 has surpassed 393,000 in that country, the third-highest death toll in the world.

Kids, too, are suffering academic setbacks as a result of the schedule shake-up. Students from low to middle-income backgrounds missed an average of 124 days of school due to closures — or 107 billion days of missed school around the world. Preschool shutdowns added another 16 billion missed days.