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GENDER EQUALITY AT HOME: Findings from a Facebook survey

Patriarchy is a society in which the men hold positions of power in political, economic, social and moral authority. Some of these societies are patrilineal, meaning the aforementioned authority, along with property is passed along the male line. Patriarchy may have been necessary for older civilizations, but today, it is on the cusp of being obsolete. A typically patriarchal society has started caving under the weight of gender equality movements. Today, gender equality is not only recognized as a fundamental human right, but also a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future.

The movement for attaining gender equality has gained speed in the past years. We have witnessed movements like ‘#metoo' in 2018 which spoke out against sexual harassment and assault by men in positions of power, ‘Orange the world’ in 2015 led by the United Nations (UN) women to end gender based violence and the scraping of article 377 in 2018 in India which legitimized same-sex relationships. Over the last few decades, more girls are going to school, fewer girls are being forced into early marriages, more women are serving in the parliament and in positions of leadership, and laws are being reformed to advance gender equality. Despite these gains, many discriminatory laws and social norms prevail, and women continue to be underrepresented at all levels of political leadership.

Facebook conducted a survey in 2020 in which people in 208 countries expressed their perceptions and shared their experiences surrounding gender equality at home. This analysis provides an extensive global overview of gender inequalities and biases at home in terms of people's views toward gender equality, access to resources, time spent on unpaid care work, work and wage equality, the delegation of authority with respect to assigned responsibilities and wealth in a household, and how life has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, we list some important findings from the survey from the Asian, Middle Eastern, and North African regions, describing aggregate patterns in survey responses from 34 countries of this region.

1. Gender equality at home: Perceptions

85.72% of the respondents agreed on the statement that “Men and women should have equal opportunities (e.g. in education, jobs, household decision-making)”. This represents a shifting trend away from many patriarchal institutions and towards a more equal status quo. It also depicts a shift in ideology that empowers women to pursue their own interests. Women were found agreeing more (88%), compared to men (82%) to the statement above. Amongst countries, it was seen that Israel and Japan agree to the need for gender equality the most while Myanmar and Indonesia agree the least.

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Respondents reported 46% agreement on the statement that “The household expenses are the responsibility of the man, even if his wife can help him”. This agreement was seen to be more in men than in women. 71% of people in Egypt agreed on it with maximum percentages and 22% of people in Japan with the least count. This paints a picture of the persisting dominance of patriarchal ideologies in a lot of countries that have just about now started allowing women more rights and freedom. The graphs below show the breakdown of how men and women respond to this statement.

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Another survey on the statement "A woman's most important role is to take care of her home and children'' shows 64.76% agreement from respondents. This agreement was seen more in males than in females. This statistic portrays the reality of women still being expected to act as primary caretakers of the family, a job that is unpaid and unrecognized. The graphs below show the breakdown of how men and women respond to this statement.

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2. Gender Equality at home: Reality

41.24% of women respondents have a job that they get paid for while 30.5% of women are the main income earners of the family. In spite of 30.5% women being the primary income earners, women having full monetary access are only about 26.7% . Only 16% of women have decision-making authority on large purchases in the family and 17% decide on money spending priorities in the household. These statistics do not depict a very positive outlook on the spending capacity of women in spite of their earning potential. Interestingly, 12% of women are heads of the house. These are rare instances, but proves the point that women when given the opportunity and resources can replace the patriarchal head.

30.74% of respondents felt that "There are times when I feel uncomfortable or even unsafe in my house". Cambodian people agreed to this statement the most (61%) and Algerians the least (20%). This statistic, although disturbing, is not surprising. According to the UN 1 in 5 women between the ages of 15 and 49 report experiencing physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner within a 12-month period.

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3. Life after COVID-19

Beginning 2020, no one could see what was coming their way, lest a full-blown pandemic that would bring life to a standstill. The pandemic had an impact on every aspect of life, and the dynamics of households were not spared.

The following chart analyses the change in the amount of time spent caring for family members during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. An increasing trend is observed in most countries, whereas Taiwan seems unaffected.

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After analysing all the sections we ranked countries using The Technique for Order of Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS). TOPSIS is a method of aggregation of multiple criterion and alternatives with a certain weight to each which then allows for designating a composite gender inequality score. Based on the TOPSIS analysis of the Facebook gender equality survey, countries were ranked according to their composite gender inequality score (figure 9). Higher ranking indicated a higher level of gender inequality.

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The countries marked in light blue (Japan, Indonesia) have better gender equality while the countries marked in dark blue (Kazakhstan) have poor gender equality.

To summarize findings from the data, both men and women are seen to believe in the need for gender equality. Most men believe that men should be the primary income earners while most women do not believe so. However, a majority of both genders (men more than women) feel that women should be the primary caretakers of the home and children. In spite of earning an income, many women still do not have autonomy over their finances. Even in today’s day, many women do not feel safe in their own homes. Additionally, one can see that the findings vary greatly across the countries. As a society, there are many countries who still refuse to acknowledge women as capable, let alone consider them to be equals. The pandemic has only accentuated the time spent in caring for family members. Women being the primary caretakers of the home, this would mean an increased burden on women in the pandemic.

The aforementioned statistics are only representative of what the report generated from Facebook shows. Considering that it is mostly people with access to the internet and a basic education that could have responded to the survey, the ground reality could be worse. The statistic of a large number of women not feeling safe in their own homes is particularly appalling. We still hear cases of gender based violence across various news outlets and social media platforms. These are the instances which come to the fore. What about the ones we never get to hear about? What about those women who suffer inhuman treatment in their very own homes and yet put on a brave face to confront the world?

It is high time that principles of empowering women and treating them as equals are intricately imbibed into our cultures, morals and values. As a society, we need to adapt, grow and move forward together. Let us together, move towards a society, where gender equality is the norm.

(The aim of this blog is NOT to provide an opinion but to state facts and figures as reported from a Facebook survey. There is NO intention to offend or incite any sentiments or people through this blog. If it has happened, unknowingly, the authors extend their sincerest apologies.)

About the Authors

Shruti Kakade is a computer engineer from PICT Pune and currently working as a Senior Data Associate with IFMR LEAD. She has been with ASAR from Jan 2020 and is interested in data, SDGs and public policy.

Nakul Mohod has an MA in International Relations from City, University of London and a BA in Political Science from Fergusson College, Pune. He has been an intern with ASAR since January 2021.



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