ActionAid leads online debate on Unpaid Care Work and the links to Violence Against Women

Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 13:25

This webinar was the first in an exciting new series looking at themes being addressed in ActionAid’s 5 year POWER (Promoting Opportunities for Women’s Empowerment and Rights) project. This is taking place in Ghana, Rwanda, Bangladesh and Pakistan and is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands. The project is working through local partners to achieve economic empowerment for women in rural communities. It is doing so by focusing on a number of interlinked areas: Unpaid Care Work, Climate Resistant Sustainable Agriculture, access to markets and Violence Against Women. It builds on ActionAid’s extensive programme and policy experience in these thematic areas.

Evidence suggests that women’s economic empowerment cannot be achieved without addressing women’s unequal workload due to Unpaid Care Work. Across all countries and regardless of income, women are excessively responsible for Unpaid Care Work (UCW). Globally women work the equivalent of an extra one month’s work for every woman, every year of a woman’s life. Women living in poor, rural communities, where basic infrastructure and services are lacking, are even more affected by this burden of care.

This inequality around Unpaid Care Work reinforces broader gender inequalities and restricts women’s opportunities for paid work and therefore economic empowerment. 

The issue of Violence Against Women also reinforces and arises from gender inequalities.  Violence is both an attack on basic human rights and prevents women from living full and equal lives. ActionAid therefore looks to address Violence Against Women (VAW) in all its work.

So how is Unpaid Care linked to Violence Against Women? Can addressing Unpaid Care Work lead to a reduction in Violence Against Women? Or can attempts to recognise, reduce and redistribute Unpaid Care Work actually be seen as a justification for Violence Against Women?

Action Aid recently organised an international webinar to consider these questions, and to share and learn what works in addressing Unpaid Care Work and Violence Against Women, what challenges exist, and how can we influence national, regional and international policy. The webinar attracted over 40 participants from a wide range of organisations and countries. ActionAid staff joined from the international secretariat and 9 different national offices. There were also participants from other organisations working on these themes such as Oxfam, Age International, Action on Disability and Development, and Trocaire.



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Azumi Mezuna: Project coordinator of POWER project, ActionAid Ghana


Azumi is leading on ActionAid’s POWER project in Ghana. She has extensive knowledge on issues affecting smallholder women farmers and the challenges related to UCW and its effects on the economic empowerment of women, particularly in Ghana.


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Roselyn Nyatsanza, Programme Coordinator: HIV & SRH Programme, Oxfam Zimbabwe


Roselyn has experience coordinating projects on women’s rights including sexual reproductive health and HIV, VAWG and Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) and the care economy. Roselyn presented on Oxfam’s WEE and Care programme Phase 2, which includes findings from new research on the links between UCW, VAWG and social norms.


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Chaired by Wangari Kinoti, International Policy Manager for Women’s Rights at ActionAid International


Wangari is based in Kenya and has extensive experience working on issues around UCW and VAW.


Participants heard presentations on work being done in this area at both ActionAid and Oxfam and then had a chance to input their own experiences and challenges and ask the presenters more specific questions.  Issues that arose in the discussion were around: the need to consider women with disabilities; challenges around social norms; whether VAW is heightened by the disruption of social norms; how women might be exposed to violence whilst carrying out UCW in the public sphere; the role of the state as a both challenge and a solution and how contextual issues such as rights to mobility can affect women’s ability to enjoy their full rights.

In response to these questions and comments the presenters shared their own experiences. We heard how women with disabilities are included in the ActionAid POWER project, and how social norms, and power and gender dynamics at household and community level are all linked – as well as related public spending. We also heard how the POWER project is taking a two pronged approach: in empowering women to be able to demand their rights and discuss issues (through ActionAid’s Action-Reflection methodology); and in doing community sensitisation work to enable these demands and discussions to lead to better results. Related to the role of the state we heard how the Oxfam WEE and Care programme is gathering evidence and developing clear policy asks around gender budgeting and access to services related to UCW. The POWER project will also be contributing to work to ensure that we get wider acknowledgement at reginal and international level (eg the African Union) that care work is an issue, and that is stays on the agenda of policy and decision makers at all levels.

Webinar structure

  • 00:00 - Intro to webinar and related themes
  • 02:25 – Introduction to ActionAid POWER project (Christina Kwangwari, POWER project Manager)
  • 07:10 – Presentation on experiences of POWER project from ActionAid Ghana (Azumi Mezuna)
  • 19:45 – Presentation on experiences from Oxfam’s WEE and Care programme Phase 2, which includes findings from new research on the links between UCW, VAWG and social norms (Roselyn Nyatsanza)
  • 38:55 – Questions and feedback