July 26, 2021

Coronavirus crisis maintains inequality, according to a Belgian university



The coronavirus crisis and the confinement imposed by most governments have not contributed to reducing the gender gap in the distribution of household chores, according to a study promoted by the TOR Research Group of the Free University of Brussels (VUB , for its initials in Dutch).

During quarantine, Belgian women spend an average of three hours and five minutes on housework and childcare, 32 minutes more than men in the same period.

In leisure and free time, however, the men surveyed have an average of six hours and 50 minutes, almost an hour more (57 minutes) than the women participating in the research.

The first conclusions of the study, still ongoing, are based on the response of 661 Belgian citizens between 18 and 75 years old to the digital survey presented on the website everydaylife.eu.

To date, the participants have filled in more than 3,500 temporary newspapers, some schemes that reflect the activity or simultaneous activities that take place throughout the 24 hours of a day for at least one week.

“Finding a good job and a balanced family life is facilitated by the public-private separation of work and home. Work takes place in the workplace, teaching in schools and housework at home. Now that separation is Pieun van Tienoven, the VUB sociologist who is leading the project, explained that it has vanished.

The data from this research has been compared with a random sampling from the 2013 time use survey, to verify the most substantial changes between the routines at one time and another.

In comparison, men barely spend three minutes more on average on household chores than seven years ago, while women spend 46 minutes less on these chores, which translates into a deceptive reduction in the gender gap.

“(The data) make sense because at least part of the unpaid work has disappeared: children do not have to be transferred to school, clothes may get less dirty because there are no outdoor activities and shopping at the supermarket is shorter, “stresses the sociologist.

TRAVEL, SUBSTITUTED FOR LEISURE

Another notable difference from the 2013 sample is that the average time spent at home (discounted the hours of sleep) shoots up to four hours a day in the weekly average, with 12 hours and 49 minutes of staying at home in times pandemic.

The average hour and twenty minutes spent on transport and mobility have also been reduced to nine minutes. This time, according to the Belgian researcher, has gone “mostly” to leisure activities.

Looking at age groups, both young respondents (18-24 years old) and older respondents (65-75 years) spend “more than an hour on average a day” in social networks and online communication, “substantially more than in 2013. “

Finally, this union of the spheres of home and work, as well as the concentration of leisure activities can lead to “problems of tension and stress” within the family environment, something that is expected to be relaxed with the measures of lack of confidence.

Oscar Pandiello

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