strategy

Sharing family responsibilities

Synonyms:
Developing mutual responsibility of women and men
Context:
A fundamental cause of inequality between men and women in employment is the multiple role played by women in society and the perpetuation of traditionally defined roles. Despite legislation on social security provisions, men often fail to use them due to the continuing attitude that it is not their role to do so or that it is not acceptable for men who take their careers seriously.
Implementation:
This strategic objective formed part of the Platform for Action of the United Nations Fourth World Conference for Women (Beijing, 1995). Many western countries have put in place supportive legislation, such as parental leave, which enable both women and men to share some of the family responsibilities. In many countries attitudes towards sharing responsibilities have also changed. In the UK, for example, 54% of respondents to a 1994 survey thought that the preparation of the evening meal should be shared, but only 20% actually did share it. ILO undertakes activities aiming to raise awareness, increasing acceptance of changing roles and promoting action programmes that encourage men to participate in family responsibilities.

Action by governments might include promoting the sharing of family responsibilities, creating incentives such as flexible working hours for the sharing of parental responsibilities by women and men to reduce the preponderance of men in productive activities and of women in reproductive activities, including decision-making regarding family size and child-spacing measures could be taken to improve communication between men and women and the understanding of their respective and joint responsibilities so that women and men are seen as equal partners in public and private life.

Action by non-governmental organizations might include development of special programmes that focus on young people and their development of greater understanding of and sensitivity to gender issues. Action by the UN system could include examining existing personnel policies and practices to ensure that they provide support to women in reconciling their family and work responsibilities.

Subjects:
Women
Men
Family
Development
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies