Women remain responsible for housework: survey

Monday, March 7, 2011
Issue 1252, Page 3
Word count: 654
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

A 2010 Government-commissioned survey has found that women have continued to take on the primary responsibilities for household chores, which might have discouraged them from taking part in public affairs.

The Women’s Affairs Advisory Committee yesterday revealed part of the results at the carnival to celebrate tomorrow’s International Women’s Day at Tap Seac Square. The committee said the full report will be formally released in the near future.

According to the latest investigation conducted by the University of Macau into the status and needs of Macau women, 52.6 percent of the respondents said they were responsible for the domestic chores, down from 57.1 percent when compared to the last survey in 2008.

Although it has been found that more husbands share the housework with their wives, the report said the situation where “the women are homemakers and child carers” was still prevalent.

Yet, the role of foreign domestic helpers seemed to have reinforced as 7.8 percent of the respondents said the housework was taken care of by these helpers, an increase of 1.9 percent over 2008.

Traditional Chinese values and beliefs in relation to families were “widely recognised” by the women interviewees, according to the survey.

For example, over 90 percent of the respondents believed that children had the responsibility to take care of and financially support their parents, and nearly 87 percent said all family members should come home for dinner together during special festive days.

In addition, 67 percent of them agreed that men must have a job and nearly 60 percent said women should get married and give birth to babies.

With regard to the gender roles, it has been found that some 63 percent of the respondents agreed that it was very important for women to “marry a good husband”, and nearly 65 percent said men were the breadwinners in families.

However at the same time it has shown that only 23.5 percent of the respondents believed that women should sacrifice their careers or studies for their loved ones or families, while over 60 percent “disagreed” or “very much disagreed”.

Coordinator of the advisory committee, Agnes Lam Iok Fong, told reporters on the sidelines of the carnival that although Macau women are becoming increasingly “open-minded”, they remained the main family member to take care of household chores, implying that the proportion of men taking part in housework needs to be raised.

“As such, women can have more time to participate in public affairs and voice their opinions and needs openly in society,” Lam said.

According to the findings, almost 96 percent of the respondents said they never expressed opinions through any of the channels available in society – such as writing to newspapers or calling radio program – a further increase by 6.2 percent over 2008.

The survey noted a 12 percent increase in the number of women who were members of social organisations to 37.4 percent, but a majority of the respondents at 62.6 percent said they did not join any of the local associations.

In addition, nearly 70 percent of the female interviewees said they “rarely” or “never” did volunteer work, up 10 percent when compared to 2008.

Nevertheless, Lam disclosed that the 2010 results showed that fewer respondents had put a large part of their income in the families, suggesting that “the husbands might have earned more money than before”.

The 2008 survey reported that 80 percent of the women used 40 percent of their income on their families.

Also yesterday, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Cheong U, told reporters on the sidelines of the carnival that the Government would not rule out the possibility of increasing the minimum subsistence index and age pension amid inflation, but added that it cannot be confirmed until the research report is completed.

The secretary said the Government is working on some “flexible measures” to be implemented in April or May with the aim of stepping up support for the disadvantaged groups.

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