Kigali, 30th April 2020 - As most Rwandans are staying home to prevent the spread of Coronavirus pandemic, ActionAid Rwanda calls on Rwandan citizens to desist from domestic violence and reduce Women’s Unpaid Care Work burden through redistribution of household chores among family members, to prevent all forms of violence arising from unequal workload of Unpaid Care Work.
This call is made considering that humanitarian crises exacerbate gender inequalities and increase violence against women and girls. On April 5, 2020, the United Nations warned that from March 2020 when Coronavirus (COVID-19) was spreading around the world, the combination of economic and social stresses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as restrictions on movement, have dramatically increased the number of women and girls facing abuse, in almost all countries. The UN also revealed that in some countries, the number of women calling support services has doubled.
In Rwanda, the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) last week announced that based on domestic violence cases they received in 28 days before the lockdown and those received 28 days after the lockdown, it was found that domestic violence cases have decreased by 38% since the start of the lockdown.
“This is a good step, and we urge all Rwandans to continue preventing all causes of violence. Rwandan citizens should abide by guidelines set by health institutions to prevent the spread of this pandemic including staying home, but also prevent the increase of domestic violence cases so that we overcome this COVID-19 pandemic without a rise of domestic violence,” the Country Director of ActionAid Rwanda Josephine Irene Uwamariya said.
“We encourage anyone who experiences domestic violence or know someone who has experienced domestic violence during this lockdown period to immediately report the case to relevant authorities for assistance. Victims of domestic violence may report their cases to local authorities or call the following toll-free lines: RIB: 116/3512, National Police: 112, MIGEPROF: 2560, GMO: 5798,” she added.
The Country Director of ActionAid Rwanda further urged family members to reduce Women’s Unpaid Care Work burden through redistribution of household chores among family members, to prevent all forms of violence arising from unequal workload of Unpaid Care Work.
“it is a responsibility for every family member to do Unpaid Care Work because it is contributing to the wellbeing of the family and the society in general. When Unpaid Care Work is left to women and girls only, it limits women and girls to sufficiently engage in economic and leadership opportunities that leads to psychological, physical, sexual and property violence to women and girls due to economic dependency to their male partners. There are some men who help their wives to do Unpaid Care Work, and we take this occasion to applaud them.”
ActionAid Rwanda is an Associate Member of ActionAid International, an anti-poverty agency working in Rwanda since 1982 to contribute to the country’s development, with women at the center of its interventions. The organization aims at contributing to eradication of poverty and injustice with a focus on tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice. ActionAid Rwanda has a very strong commitment to supporting and empowering women as well as promoting women’s rights. Currently, ActionAid Rwanda operates in 5 Districts of Rwanda (Nyanza, Gisagara, Nyaruguru, Musanze and Karongi).
Note to editors
More information on Unpaid Care Work
Unpaid Care Work refers to the many services that women and girls provide in their homes and in communities, from preparing food and cleaning to taking care of children, the ill and the elderly. In most societies, cooking, cleaning, fetching water and collection of firewood are considered as women’s work.
Evidence suggests that economic empowerment cannot be achieved without addressing women’s unequal workload, which reinforces gender inequalities by impinging upon education, restricting opportunities for paid work, putting women at greater risk of gender-based violence (GBV), and limiting women’s political participation. Research by the International Labor organization (ILO) presented in the UNCSW63, 2019 found that women spend on average 4hours and 25 minutes per day doing Unpaid Care Work while men spend only 1 hour and 23 minutes per day. Analysis of Data from 28 countries, has revealed that the value of UCW & housework ranges from 12 to 40 percent of GDP (UNDP, 2015).
A countrywide research commissioned by ActionAid Rwanda in 2019 that assessed the status and effects of Unpaid Care Work on women’s economic empowerment found that domestic work is unevenly shared where women spend 6 hours in rural, 5 hours in semi-urbans and 2 hours in cities daily while men spend 2 hours in rural, 1 hour in suburbs and towns daily as in cities most household chores are done by domestic workers. Evaluation in 5 Districts where ActionAid operates found that its target groups have increased time allocated on productive work from 5 to 7 hours that significantly increased their income between 8-12%.
The decline in the time women spend on Unpaid Care Work and the increase of time women spend on productive work is a result of different interventions including sensitization campaigns which changed the mindset of some men who started realizing the burden of women’s Unpaid Care Work then started helping their wives in doing it, infrastructures set by the government and other development partners including time saving interventions such as water points which helped women to fetch water nearby their households and energy saving cooking stoves which reduced the amount of firewood needed by women to cook food, hence reducing the time they used to spend collecting firewood; among other interventions.
When Unpaid Care Work is not redistributed between household members (women, men, children and others living in the household) to reduce the burden and time women spend doing it, as a consequence, it affects women’s empowerment as well as the economic development of the family and the country in general. This is because the time women spend on Unpaid Care Work deprive women the opportunity to do more income generating activities, participate in decision-making positions or other government programs, among others, leading to worsened gender time poverty in Rwanda.
For further information or interviews, please contact:
Email : Clarisse.Kawera@actionaid.org
 Esplen, E. (2009) Gender and Care Overview Report, BRIDGE Institute of Development Studies