Recognizing the importance of unpaid work is critical to achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, which is Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Like most SDGs that are focused on the people dimension of the 2030 Agenda, the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed some of the gains made in gender equality and women’s empowerment. Following the onset of COVID-19, many women have been forced to devote greater time to unpaid work activities, the extent of which has not been previously well-documented in the Caribbean. In this study, we evaluate how women and men allocated their time to different unpaid work in the household during the pandemic to gain a better understanding of the pattern of change in time-use in times of shocks and to inform the formulation of appropriate policy responses.
Using data from a Rapid Gender Assessment Survey of the impacts of COVID-19 in the Caribbean, we found that women, especially those who work in the services sector, were more impacted by job losses than men. Although already overburdened with unpaid work prior to the pandemic, women spent more time in unpaid work, particularly in caring for children, than men during the pandemic. Unfortunately, there is no established system of time-use surveys in the Caribbean to provide a robust data set that could be used to establish trends in pre-pandemic use of time by women and men. The findings of the current study point to the need to conduct time-use surveys on a regular basis. In addition to providing statistics on how women and men allocate their time for different purposes, such surveys will provide insights into factors impeding women’s labour market participation in the Caribbean. Towards this end, important considerations for implementing time-use surveys are presented in this study for the consideration of National Statistical Offices of the Caribbean