Getting up early, making breakfast, supervising online schooling, sitting in front of a computer, trying to work, going out to buy food, cooking, washing, and cleaning is perhaps the order of the day for many women during the pandemic.
SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus which has spread in 2020, led to strict sanitary measures being imposed, along with social distancing and quarantine, as a means of prevention, while suddenly forcing nations to deepen or incorporate remote work into their economies.
The advantages are clear: greater freedom in terms of time, saving resources, the chance to design one’s own work environment, and more harmony between personal, family and work life.
However, certain voices of authority stress that remote work is a source of imbalance between work hours and personal life, and highlight a crisis of care and domestic labour, both tasks that are devalued, unpaid and highly feminised.
According to the United Nations, women dedicate 2.5 hours more than men to domestic work and care each day, and the pandemic puts additional pressure on them, often with negative impacts on their well-being.
Karina Batthyány, Executive Secretary of the Latin American Council of Social Sciences,
explains the belief that incorporating women into productive work would redistribute the household burden on its own, when in reality it translated into a double working day for them.
A study on how domestic labour affects the performance of remote workers in Cuba, especially those of the female sex, has been conducted but has not yet been published, though real-word experience is evidence of women being overburdened with different tasks.
For this report, the researchers interviewed Cuban women of different ages who were forced to work remotely during these months of fighting Covid-19, and found that their acceptance or rejection of remote work depended on their individual demand for care and household work.
Young women without children or older women with adult children (who are independent) praised remote work, while women with minors or dependent children in their care faced more difficulty in terms of finding a balance and getting their work done.
In addition to this, a survey of 10,000 Spanish women indicates that 86% of mothers expressed feelings of apathy or sadness, and that, due to the demands of remote work, housework, and taking care of and educating their children, seven out of ten are much more tired than before the lockdown.
Spain’s IESE Business School reveals that, due to the greater dedication to care, women who worked remotely during the pandemic experienced 20% more mental fatigue and 16% more stress than men, percentages that increase to 33% and 18%, respectively, in single mothers.
According to press reports, this had an impact on the fact that the use of anxiety medicine and sleeping pills has skyrocketed in the Iberian nation since the lockdown and period of working remotely began, and some women have been forced to resign from their jobs.
On top of that, the preliminary results of a study by the University of Valencia report that, in addition to the tasks described, women facilitate remote work for their partners, and are forced to fulfill their professional role at dawn.
Beyond the statistics, the situation shows a clear reality: an imbalance in the productivity of each sex.
Another aspect is the increase in gender-based violence, as victims are locked up with their abusers, with the evidence being a record number of femicides recorded in several countries in recent months.
The effects of the health emergency threaten to reinforce gender gaps and stereotypes, and the greater burden put on girls and young women in terms of caring for others contributes to perpetuating traditional gender roles. Sources consulted from the International Labour Organization understand that assuming remote work requires a level of co-responsibility in housework that escapes the patterns of sexual reproduction of work. (PL)