Vietnamese women contribute 110 million hours of unpaid work each day

By Bui Hong Nhung   October 23, 2016 | 11:58 pm PT
Vietnamese women contribute 110 million hours of unpaid work each day
A group of ethnic women are making clothes to welcome a new year. Photo by VnExpress.
Women work harder and spend less time on recreational activities than men.

Vietnamese women spend an average of five hours a day on unpaid work such as household chores and childcare while men spare around three hours.

In some disadvantaged areas, women can spend over eight hours a day on unpaid work.

The figures were extracted from a survey conducted by the Labor Ministry and ActionAid, a non-governmental organization working against poverty and injustice worldwide, between January and April this year.

The survey involved 825 participants aged over 15 from nine provinces in Vietnam.

Hoang Phuong Thao, head of ActionAid Vietnam, said: “Unpaid work is thought to be a woman’s responsibility, so they have less time to engage in paid jobs or join in social activities.”

Each woman has about 13.6 hours for personal time such as sleeping, relaxing and enjoying hobbies, one hour less than men.

With 22 million women of a legal working age, the survey estimated that Vietnamese women spend up to 110 million hours on unpaid work every day.

This work, though making up 20 percent of Vietnam’s GDP last year (around $41 billion), is underestimated by society and women themselves, Thao said.

Is it good for women to spend more time on unpaid work?

The head of ActionAid Vietnam said that more time spent on unpaid work means less time on studying and paid jobs, so more and more Vietnamese women are falling into the poverty trap.

“This affects not only themselves but also future generations.”

Khuat Thu Hong, director of the Institute for Social Development Studies, said that in many cases, a woman’s role in the family is often undermined and they are more likely to suffer domestic violence as they earn less than their male counterparts.

The government has been campaigning to raise public awareness of gender equality as well as the efforts women devote to unpaid work, but the situation hasn’t improved much.

Son Thi Na Qui, head of the Women's Union from Ward 8 in the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh, one of the surveyed regions, said that only a small portion of local males had started doing housework after taking part in the survey.

“But they just picked up their kids from school or repaired electrical appliances. They refused to do other stuff like cleaning the house or washing dishes,” Qui said.

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