Invisible Work

It is time to acknowledge the invisible work performed by women and girls worldwide.



In every country today, women perform the majority of unpaid care work — childcare, cleaning, cooking, household chores, caring for the elderly, and so on — even when women are engaging in the same amount of paid work as their male counterparts. Unpaid care work is routine, essential, and often invisible. While it can be rewarding, it is also an unrewarded drain on time and energy. The responsibility of unpaid care work can have serious negative social and economic repercussions for women over the course of their lifetimes. Our mission is to shine a light on this invisible work and promote conversation around change. 


According to the OECD, when the amount of unpaid care work a woman has to accomplish in a day decreases from five hours to three hours, their paid workforce participation increases 20%. It’s estimated that by reducing the amount of unpaid work women are expected to do, the world’s economy could experience a $12 trillion boost by 2025. Additionally, in developing countries, when girls and women receive an education, health services (especially reproductive health services) and opportunities in the workforce, they are more likely than their male counterparts to reinvest in their children, families, and communities. To do this, they need time – specifically a reduction in the burden of unpaid work.

The following “Three R’s” framework was developed by British economist and professor Diane Elson to help incorporate unpaid care work into macroeconomic policies and development activities. The information on this website serves to highlight each area and what you as an individual can do for each “R”.


Recognize that unpaid work is valuable and economically important work, through both individual and larger social lenses.



Reduce the amount of time and energy unpaid work takes through infrastructure, policies and technology.



Redistribute unpaid work more evenly between women and men, households, governments, markets, and organizations.


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