Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals aims to eradicate all forms of violence and discrimination towards the women. It also addresses other key challenges such as poverty and education for girls. Family Caregiving is an interesting case where women's equality is both a question and an answer when it comes to family caregiving crisis. We need to remember that family caregiving does not refer solely to patients suffering from cancer or terminal illness but also applies to those individuals with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities such as cerebral palsy. Similarly to Alzheimer in adult care recipients, children with cognitive disorders require 24/7 assistance due to the their physical impairment and unpredictability of their behavior.
We are are unfortunately lacking sufficient evidence of the increased role of women in taking care of the children born with the above mentioned disabilities. The Hospice Foundation in Gdansk, Poland however reports that the vast majority of children suffering from lifetime cognitive disorders is raised by single women from the day there are born. On the contrary a typical American caregiver is a 46-year old woman, married or living with a partner. Naturally single caregivers experience more challenges than those living with a partner. From being unable to share one’s own emotions, experience and everyday responsibilities to the increased burden of physical care tasks such as dressing or bathing which require lifting of a care recipient (ADLs).
The social awareness campaign that has been released in Poland for a second year in a row and entitled: Family Caregiver - doesn’t have to be alone illustrates the non-glamorous yet truly heroic everyday reality of those family caregivers that need to tackle it on their own. Please watch it below.
According to the data published by United Nations in their Sustainable Development Goals Plan Report the proportion of time spent on unpaid and paid work between men and women varies significantly. In 59 countries worldwide 19 compared to 10% of unpaid work is executed by women. The data however does not specify what percentage of the above is the informal caregiving and whether it is included in the statistics at all. Another study showed that although men also provide assistance, female caregivers spend up to 50% more time providing care than male caregivers [Institute on Aging. (2016). Read How IOA Views Aging in America.] There is also a difference in the scope of responsibilities undertaken by each gender. Studies indicate that 36% of female caregivers in United States shoulder the majority of the most difficult caregiving tasks (i.e., bathing, toileting, and dressing) compared with 24% for their male counterparts, who are more likely to help with finances, arrangement of care, and other less burdensome tasks. [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2009). Caregiving in the U.S.]. The physical dimension of an everyday care provided by women increase the risk of health complications such as back pain, poorer immune function and elevated blood pressure.