WHO Report: Women Bear 76% of Unpaid Care Activities

By Milcah Tanimu

A newly released report by the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that women are responsible for approximately 76% of all unpaid care activities globally.

Titled “Fair share for health and care: gender and the undervaluation of health and care work,” the report emphasizes the detrimental effects of gender disparities in health and care work on women, health systems, and overall health outcomes.

According to the report, women also make up 67% of the paid global health and care workforce. However, despite their significant contribution, roles primarily undertaken by women tend to be undervalued, resulting in lower pay and substandard working conditions.

The report highlights the underinvestment in health systems, leading to a vicious cycle of unpaid health and care work that diminishes women’s participation in paid labor markets, undermines their economic empowerment, and hampers progress towards gender equality.

Additionally, the report underscores the prevalence of low pay and challenging working conditions in the health and care sector, attributing these conditions to the undervaluation of caregiving, which is predominantly performed by women.

Furthermore, the report warns of a growing global crisis of care due to chronic underinvestment in health and care work, exacerbated by stagnation in progress towards universal health coverage (UHC). With billions lacking full coverage of essential health services, women may face an increased burden of unpaid care work.

WHO’s Director for Health Workforce, Jim Campbell, stressed the need for gender-equitable investments in health and care work to reset their value and foster fairer and more inclusive economies. Campbell called upon leaders, policymakers, and employers to prioritize investment in health and care, advocating for a fair distribution of resources.

The report proposes policy measures to enhance the value of health and care work, including improving working conditions, enhancing wages, promoting gender equity in the workforce, ensuring equal pay for equal work, and investing in robust public health systems.

By addressing gender disparities in care and investing in health systems, the report argues that progress towards UHC can be accelerated, while also reducing the burden of unpaid care work and improving healthcare outcomes for all.


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