The eradication of poverty and injustice depends on women’s equal enjoyment of their human rights. Oxfam has invested significantly in women’s economic leadership, and affirms that economic empowerment requires parallel progress in women’s political, social and personal empowerment. Women’s control over their own time and labour is increasingly recognized as a precondition for this, and is an acute issue in Sub-Saharan Africa, as confirmed by the recent UN Human Rights report.
“[H]eavy and unequal responsibility for unpaid care is a barrier to women’s greater involvement in the labor market, affecting productivity, economic growth and poverty reduction… the unequal distribution, intensity and lack of ecognition of unpaid care work …entrenches [women’s] disproportionate vulnerability to poverty across their lifetime…. Women an girls in poor households spend more time in unpaid work than in non-poor households (ILO, UNDP) due to limited access to public services [and] infrastructure … and lack of resources to pay for care services or time-saving technology… Studies indicate that in sub-Saharan Africa, 71 per cent of the burden of collecting water for households falls on women and girls [MDG Report 2012] who in total spend 40 billion hours a year collecting water, equivalent to a year’s worth of labor by the entire workforce in France [UNDP 2009] UN Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty, October 2013
Goal: To address the complexity of care provisioning in the context of HIV and AIDS in Oxfam Canada’s broader Securing Rights in the Context of HIV and AIDS program (SRP).
Specific focus areas of the program
• women’s control over resources and assets;
• women’s control over their own time and labour,
• women’s agency and effective economic organization
• to have power in markets and choices about livelihoods,
• influence on economic policy, and
• improved outcomes, where women control and benefit from the income, profits and well-being
Oxfam aims to work with others to change the terms of debate on economic development and women’s empowerment. In the long-term, Oxfam seeks to support poor women to reduce and redistribute care by advocating for increased investments in care by states, local groups and families. This will enable women to participate and lead in economic initiatives and politics, while improving the provision of care, especially for vulnerable members of communities.
To address care, Oxfam is instigating a 3-year programme Women’s Economic Empowerment and Care – Evidence for Influencing Change (WEE-Care). The programme will develop new research methodologies to gather context-specific evidence about care activities, create tools that are accessible to local organisations, use mixed methods and harness new communications technologies. Oxfam and partners will leverage this evidence on care through existing development initiatives and policy advocacy in countries, and monitor outcomes of change strategies and advocacy. WEE-Care thus complements and strengthens several Oxfam initiatives on women’s leadership and livelihoods by building ‘evidence for influencing change’ on care. In the first instance, the aim is to demonstrate the concept, and these initiatives will then replicate WEE-Care methods and recommended practices in subsequent years, ensuring the sustainability of this project.