The uneven distribution of work is holding mothers and fathers back.
We know women do more unpaid work than men and that fathers have more free time than mothers, but it's such a multifaceted, complicated issue that even for guys who want to be equal partners and involved fathers (and that's most millennial dads) it is really hard to equalize the workload at home. Most of it is still on mama.
As Motherly reported earlier this week, no country in the world is on track to reach gender equality by 2030, a goal adopted by 193 United Nations member countries back in 2015. The gender disparity in unpaid work is a huge factor here. Women simply do more unpaid work than men, and it hurts our careers, our families and our relationships.
But a new report suggests a very simple solution. Men just need to do just under an hour of unpaid work per day, and women need to cut their unpaid labor time by the same amount.
This, according to the State of the World's Fathers' report, produced by Promundo—a non-profit organization dedicated to engaging men and boys in gender equality—in partnership with Dove Men+Care would ease the burden on mothers and break down some of the social barriers that prevent men from being the fathers they want to be.
"We need men to do our share. Fifty minutes more to relieve women of 50 minutes less would get us really close to equal," the president and CEO of Promundo, Gary Barker, tells Motherly.
Barker, who founded Promundo while he was a stay-at-home parent himself, says men need to be encouraged to do their unpaid care work and that society needs to make changes that will nudge men to pick up those extra 50 minutes a day.
Offering paid, "use-it-or-lose-it" parental leave specifically for fathers (in addition to a mother's leave) could be a game changer in getting dads to do that extra 50 minutes. Such policies already exist in some parts of the world and are changing the way fathers—and their kids—view and participate in unpaid care work.
According to Ellen Bravo, the co-director of Family Values @ Work, parental leave and more flexible workplace cultures for all parents are key pieces of evening out the distribution of domestic work. Men want to be doing more at home and for their kids, but they feel like they can't, and so mom does more than her fair share. It's time for society to support parents better, so that men have the freedom to contribute in the way they want to at home, and women are free from the burden of that extra 50 minutes (or more) of unpaid work.
"This is really about changing relationships between men and women," Bravo tells Motherly. "Yes, it's about culture change, but there are a lot more men who would be good husbands, fathers and sons if they weren't punished for it at work."
While it's clear that lawmakers and employers have a lot to do to help families even out the distribution of work, men can also do their part to make change, one load of laundry or bedtime routine at a time. Fifty minutes may not seem like a lot, but having an extra 50 minutes would change the lives of so many mothers (and it's plenty of time for a dad to make a lasting impact on the next generation).
You might also like:
- No country is on target for gender equality—and that's hurting mothers, especially
- Why equal parenting is still a myth
- There's only one job where women make more than men in America—and the 'motherhood penalty' only makes the gap larger