European Household Gender Equality Survey: Progress Needed

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A new survey reveals that household chores and childcare remain unevenly distributed between men and women in the UK. And the situation is often even darker in Europe.

Nobody likes doing housework, but a new survey reveals that women in the UK continue to shoulder a disproportionate share of these often menial tasks, compared to men.

The UK Social Attitudes Survey (BSA) found that more than three-quarters of respondents believed domestic work should be shared out, but around two-thirds of women still do more than their fair share of cleaning and cooking.

The survey results, however, give some hope to those fighting for gender equality.

In the mid-1980s, 48 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “a man’s job is to earn money and a woman’s job is to take care of the home.”

This year, only 9% share this opinion, and 32% of men surveyed admit that they take care of the house less than they should.

In 1983, when the BSA survey began, the employment rate for women aged 16 to 64 was only 54 percent. It is now 72% and many mothers who traditionally would have stayed at home are now choosing to return to work after giving birth.

Differences in Europe

In continental Europe, however, the situation is often very different from that in the UK.

According to statistics published by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) in 2021, household chores, childcare and caring for people with disabilities or other chronic illnesses remain the tasks most unevenly distributed on the continent.

The EIGE found that around 91% of women with children spend at least an hour a day on household chores, while this figure drops to 30% among men with children.

Research has found that much of this unequal division of labor is due to entrenched gender roles, passed down from mothers to their daughters and from fathers to their sons.

Education level also plays a role.

More educated women spend less time on household chores, but the opposite is true for men.

EIGE found that highly skilled female employees frequently outsource household chores to reduce the time they spend on them, while men appear reluctant to spend money on tasks they can apparently do themselves. same.

Across Europe, many countries have recently seen an increase in gender balance in decision-making and responsibility for household chores.

Over the past decade, France, Luxembourg, Italy, Germany and Spain have all seen significant increases in equality within the home.

Conversely, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia and Bulgaria regressed in terms of the gender balance of power.

In Europe, statistics show that on average, 79% of women (with or without children) take care of daily household chores and cooking, compared to only 34% of men.

The gap is smallest in Sweden. In this Scandinavian country, 74% of women perform these tasks regularly, but 56% of men also participate.

Greece is on the other side of the gender equality coin.

There, 85% of women are responsible for household chores, while only 16% of men participate.

Childcare: a woman’s “job”?

When it comes to parents, the proportion of women who look after their children is – unsurprisingly – much higher than that of men.

About 93% of women aged 25 to 49 with children under 18 provide daily care for their children, compared to only 69% of men.

In Greece, the disparity is exceptionally large, with 95% of women caring for their children, compared to 53% of men.

Malta has similar figures, while Sweden (96% of women and 90% of men) and Slovenia (88% and 82%) are much more equal in terms of gender balance in child care .

Overall, there is a marked difference between countries on the continent and some regions.

It seems that Scandinavian countries – closely followed by many Eastern European countries – are more comfortable with sharing traditionally “feminine” roles, while Western countries are slightly behind.

It is Southern Europe which is lagging behind in this ranking. The reasons for this are not entirely clear, although one seems to be that the more religious a country is, the more entrenched this gender imbalance is.

This article is originally published on fr.euronews.com

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