Ha Giang, 15th March 2023. CARE International in Vietnam together with the Embassy of Canada to Vietnam, AWEEV project management bodies from Ha Giang and Lai Chau, co-hosts a sharing event on achievements and lessons learnt of the project in tackling the burden of unpaid care and domestic work (UCDW) in minority ethnic households.

Attending the event are representatives from the Canada Global Affairs, Mr. Graham Dattels, Director of Southeast Asia Division II and Mr. Brian Allemekinders, Head of Cooperation, Embassy of Canada to Vietnam, Ms. Le Kim Dung, Country Director of CARE International in Vietnam and project implementing partners and staff.

Care work is essential for human well-being and sustainable economic growth. But across the world, care work continues to be overlooked, undervalued and highly gendered. The gendered distribution of unpaid care work also varies by household and community, with factors such as religion, culture and income level playing a role, affecting women and girls who experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination the most. When working-age women are unavailable to provide care, the household often turns to children, particularly adolescent girls, and older women to fill this role.

A CARE’s research in ethnic minority communities in 2021 found that ethnic minority women have to spend around five hours per day on UCDW, almost double that of their male counterparts.

The three most time-consuming unpaid care and domestic work include direct health care activities such as taking care of children, the elderly, the sick, the disabled (30.3%), cooking and cleaning after meals (19.1%) and collecting firewood (13.2%). Besides, for households who work on animal husbandry, time spent on preparing animal feeds also accounts for a remarkable amount.

The study also points out that the heavy and unequal UCDW burden has prevented many working-age women from getting paid decent work.

Mr. Graham Dattels, Director of Southeast Asia Division II, Global Affairs Canada commented: “Recognizing the pressing need to address women’s and girls’ disproportionate and heavy responsibility for care work and the poor working conditions of care workers, the Government of Canada is developing programming that helps address the issues. This approach is founded on Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, which recognizes that supporting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is the best way to build a more peaceful, more inclusive and more prosperous world.

AWEEV designs its interventions following the 3Rs approach – Recognise, Reduce and Redistribute. Implemented in Lai Chau and Ha Giang over the course of 18 months, CARE and partners have addressed the issues through supporting:

  • 14 satellite preschools to improve their infrastructure, including their kitchen, sleeping dorm and toilets, enabling meal provision, and almost 1,000 children to enjoy a full day care.
  • 1070 veggie slicers provided to households to help them cut down the time spent on preparing livestock feed – one of their most time-consuming activities. Thanks to this, women have saved up much time for paid work and self-care.
  • 5023 people (3286 women, 1737 men) to join 41 community events to improve their understanding towards domestic care work and sharing among family members.

“Considering the care issues relevant across all of the women’s economic empowerment areas, CARE is adopting a holistic approach to integrating care considerations to address the issues effectively. Through our programming, CARE aims to reduce the UCDW burden on women’s shoulders and enhance their participation in the economic, educational community and leisure activities aligned to their choice. We believe that by addressing these needs, women will be able to participate in paid work to increase their and their family’s economic well-being and quality of life. This would also reduce poverty among ethnic minority women and their households.” Le Kim Dung, CARE International in Vietnam Country Director said.

All the interventions dedicated to addressing the UCDW burden have brought up some positive changes to lives of women and their families:

  • Women reduced 17% of time spent on UCDW, while men increase their share 16%
  • Women’s time on paid care work increased 35% in comparison to the 2021 surveyed data

“AWEEV proves its effectiveness by introducing multiple interventions addressing the needs of local project participants and contributing to quality improvement of the service. We work with local governments to consider gender-responsive factors in planning and implementing decisions and policies that impact the social and economic development of local communities” added Ms Dung.

Please read the full media release here.