11 July 2023 | Briefing note

Measuring time use, care and women’s agency


This brief discusses previous challenges in collecting time use data in Indonesia, where work strongly follows gender lines. Previous attempts to collect time use data in Indonesia fail to capture the full extent of unpaid care work. In late 2022, partners conducted a pilot using a new light diary tool developed by the International Labour Organization (ILO), attitudinal survey, and a field experiment to understand time use and women’s agency. The pilot took place in urban areas with the intention to expand to rural sites.


The results show that women work longer hours than men when unpaid domestic work is considered, and supervisory care has the largest negative effect on women’s labor force participation. Attitudinal survey results reveal that women have more agency in household and caregiving activities but less agency in deciding to work for pay. The field experiment suggests that negotiation between spouses increases preferred hours of hypothetical training for both women and men.


The report recommends promoting education, campaigns to challenge gender norms, investing in care infrastructure, and surveying time use to support policies that promote gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. To efficiently survey time use, it is essential to capture both paid and unpaid work, account for multi-tasking, and distinguish between supervisory and active care.


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