Towards Harmonization of Time Use Surveys at the Global Level With Special Reference to Developing Countries
The immense potential of time use data for measuring and understanding different aspects of human life, including multi-dimensional gender inequalities, is now well accepted. By providing comprehensive information on human activities, the data give visibility to all forms of work of men and particularly of women in remunerated and non-remunerated activities; provide full visibility to the care economy by estimating paid and particularly unpaid care; improve estimates of workforce, along with throwing light on scattered and sporadic nature of informal work performed by men and women; measure socioeconomic changes by explaining the changing nature of paid and unpaid work and its sharing by different socioeconomic groups; throw useful light on the nature of poverty and human well being; explain the dynamics of intra-household sharing and gender inequality; provide valuation of unpaid non-SNA work and give estimates of total well being of people; and provide total picture of the economy and present inputs for formulating and monitoring macroeconomic policies. The data also throw useful light on some of the critical concerns of developing economies, such as, low literacy and poor educational achievements, poor health and its consequences, time spent on taking care of HIV-AIDS patients, unemployment and under-employment, informal employment etc. In short, time use statistics have emerged as a major tool to understand comprehensively, measure quantitatively and address specifically the multiple dimensions of gender inequality at the national and international levels.
The increased awareness about the critical importance of time-use data among scholars however is not matched either by the level of appreciation of the utility of time use data by policy makers or by the level of the quality of time use data. On the positive side it is to be noted that time use surveys, which began as small scale surveys in the 1970s and 1980s in these countries are increasingly graduating into large scale and national surveys. However, one observes that, except for few countries, no developing country has mainstreamed time use survey in its national statistical system in the sense that (1) most countries do not conduct a national TUS at a regular interval, (2) survey results are not fully analyzed keeping in mind the widely prevalent gender inequalities and (3) there is no national commitment to the data in the sense that the data are not used in national documents such as human development reports, poverty assessments, reports on status of women etc, and are also not used in policy making and monitoring. The main reasons why developing countries have not mainstreamed time-use surveys or have not been able to make good use of time use data are that the statistical offices and policy makers have not been able to appreciate the utility of time use data and/or they do not have the required capacity or funds to use the data. There is a need therefore to work urgently in this area.
In the background of the above discussion, an international conference on Towards Harmonization of Time Use Surveys at the Global Level: With Special Reference to Developing Countries has been organized by Time Use Research Cell (TURC) in Delhi (India) during 6-8 April, 2011. the main objective of the conference is to promote harmonization of concepts and methods of conducting time-use surveys and analysis of time use statistics at the global level, with special reference to developing countries, to promote time use surveys as a major tool to understand comprehensively, measure quantitatively and address specifically the multiple dimensions of gender inequality at the national and international levels. The conference also aims at developing a broad plan of action for the future to promote harmonization in the different aspects of time use surveys including policy formulation for promoting gender equality.
The conference is organized by CFDA (TURC) in collaboration with Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India. The other collaborators are IWG GEM (International Working Group on Gender and Macroeconomics) and UNIFEM. About 50 experts from all over the world are expected to participate in the conference.