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Development Account Projects

Improving quantification of women's unpaid work in
support of poverty eradication policies


Analysing women's contributions to the economy and social protection through the unpaid work they perform is crucial both for the socio-economic development of countries and the development of gender equality policies. Division of labour along< gender lines — the main cause of women's lack of economic autonomy and their difficulty in gaining access to paid activities — is at the heart of gender inequality. Time-use surveys are a useful instrument for analysing work in the light of the links between the public and private spheres, and for studying the "social contract" governing day-to-day relations between men and women within the home and in society. This is why they have become a tool of great importance to implement the regional agenda on gender equality. Moreover, the surveys are useful in visualizing and quantifying the social and economic value of women's domestic and care work

At the Tenth Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, the ECLAC member States agreed to develop instruments, especially time-use surveys, for periodically measuring unpaid work performed by women and men in order to make such work visible and recognize its value, to incorporate their results into the System of National Accounts and to design economic and social policies accordingly. This agreement is reinforced by resolution 5 (IV) of the fourth meeting of the Statistical Conference of the Americas of ECLAC, where member States approved the creation of a working group on gender statistics, headed by Mexico, to encourage efforts to systematize national statistical information with a gender perspective and promote in all countries the implementation of the time-use survey or the inclusion in household surveys of a module to measure women's unpaid contributions.

In this context, the number of requests received by ECLAC for technical cooperation and training towards the design, implementation and analysis of time-use surveys has increased dramatically. In 2008, the DESA received requests for assistance from eight countries and territories (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela). Each one of these countries requested support at different stages of the process, depending on their respective statistical capacities. Whereas Cuba and Venezuela require a deepening of their knowledge and capacity, the requests filed by the Dominican Republic and Honduras are the result of technical missions recently carried out. Both Puerto Rico and Peru require assistance with the first evaluation of available data and assistance needs.

In many cases, countries are requesting training on the inclusion of gender mainstreaming and statistics, which implies the organization of national workshops. A regional workshop is expected to take place in the Dominican Republic in early 2009, including participants from the other two Spanish-speaking Caribbean country and territory (Cuba and Puerto Rico). This project will be executed by ECLAC, the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women and in close collaboration with the national statistical institutes and national mechanisms for the advancement of women of the selected countries.


To increase the capacity of selected national Governments to implement time-use surveys for the measurement of women's unpaid work.

Expected accomplishments:

  • National statistical offices of Latin America and the Caribbean will acquire basic knowledge and skills to implement time-use surveys to measure women's unpaid work
  • National mechanisms for the advancement of women and other governmental authorities will use the information gathered from time-use surveys in addressing key socio-economic issues related to gender equality, such as social security gaps, income gaps and care policies

Implementation status: