Across the globe, women spend more time on average doing unpaid care work than men. This includes activities such as childcare, eldercare and house work. In the United States, the average of unpaid care work is nearly five hours a day for women and just more than three hours for men. In the state of Utah, the gap increases as women spend nearly six hours a day doing unpaid care work, compared to an average of three hours for Utah men.
Susan Madsen is the founder and director of the Utah Women and Leadership Project. Her organization released research on women in Utah and unpaid care work earlier this year.
“If women don’t have the support they need and the assistance they need for those kinds of things, they have increased stress and in some situations, deteriorating health, and just can’t contribute to things in the community like men can in terms of running for office and having a voice and getting involved in the community and those things because of those other responsibilities,” Madsen said.
Last month, this first report was followed by an impact recommendation report. This second report explores what the state is already doing to empower women and what needs to happen in the future to provide opportunities for them to contribute more to society. Madsen said the issue is complicated, but solutions begin with conversation, specifically between couples.
“Not just having assumptions and moving forward, but the conversations around what do I want to do, and what are you going to do, and how do we manage together this family and the unpaid care work in a way that supports both the man and the women in a marriage and that’s true for other living situations as well,” Madsen said.
Having conversations allows women to have more of a voice, said Madsen, and empowers them to help decide what they want to do with their time and how they can make an impact in the community.