Women spend five times more time on unpaid household chores than men, an effort that remains unrecognised both at family and national levels, according to a study by ActionAid Bangladesh.
Women devote an average of 6.45 hours to "care work" at home compared to men's average of 1.2 hours a day, ActionAid found in a study that surveyed 316 people in the rural north.
Most of women's unpaid work involves cooking, and a woman would spend 12 years out of 72 years of her life on cooking, said Sadananda Mitra, a former deputy director of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, presenting the study at Spectra Convention Centre in Dhaka yesterday.
ActionAid's study -- Time Use of Adult Women and Men in Rural North: Pattern and Trend -- monitored 181 people in Gaibandha and 135 in Lalmonirhat between November and December 2015.
Women in both districts spend much more time than men on doing unpaid care work, which includes cooking, household chores, child care, and nursing of the ill and the elderly, the study has found.
In Gaibandha, women spend 5.9 hours a day on care work, with 56 per cent of the time on cooking. Household chores, child and elderly care account for the rest, ActionAid said. In contrast, men spend only 1.1 hours on such work.
A similar condition prevails in Lalmonirhat, where women spend about seven hours a day on care work, compared to just 1.3 hours for men, according to the study.
ActionAid also found men spending more time on non-productive work that involves personal care and entertainment.
In Gaibandha, women spend 4.4 hours on non-productive work, with 1.7 hours on personal care. Men spend 6.1 hours a day on non-productive work, with nearly 2.6 hours on personal care.
In Lalmonirhat, women spend 2.9 hours and men 5.1 hours a day on non-productive work, which is less than in Gaibandha.
Conducted with support from the European Commission, the study shows that the gender gap in care work decreased in 2015 compared to 2013 among respondent families in both districts, mainly due to women's increasing mobility and social networking and their participation in income generating activities.
A "time-use" diary was introduced to sensitise family members, particularly men, to instigate recognition, redistribution and reduction of women's unpaid work.
Such recognition, reduction and redistribution of unpaid care work is essential to increase women's equal participation and control over their incomes, and will contribute to women's social and economic empowerment, ActionAid said.
Statistics and Informatics Division Secretary Kaniz Fatema also attended the event chaired by ActionAid Country Director Farah Kabir.