How do you use your time? A popular musician in one of his tracks cautioned against improper use of use time.
There is no official data on how Nigerians use their time, whether for paid or unpaid activities. Neither is there demography use of time data be it gender, age, or career.
However, it is largely believed that women bear the brunt time spent on unpaid jobs such as caregiving.
Experts say such data is vital for national planning because they help policy makers and implementers to deliver on their mandates, particularly with regards to gender equity in the workplace and businesses.
To fill the gap, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, (UN Women) have come together to carry out a national survey on Time Use In Nigeria.
Mr Adeyemi Adeniran, Statistician-General of the Federation/CEO, NBS, told a stakeholders and donors meeting in Abuja that conducting the Standalone Time Use Survey (TUS) in Nigeria was imperative.
“It is the main statistical source of information on how individuals use their time between paid and unpaid work including unpaid domestic and care work activities, study, personal care, family tasks, and leisure activities.
“It provides valuable insights into the socio-economic patterns, work-life balance, and gender dynamics in a society.
“This survey thus provides essential data that enables government, policymakers, and development practitioners to make informed decisions and design effective policies to address the needs and aspirations of citizens”, he said.
Just like any other ventures of national spread and importance, Adeniran said the study would be capital intensive, hence the need for well-meaning Nigerians and corporate organisations to pull their resources to accomplish the task.
Adeniran said in 1998, the Federal Office of Statistics, now known as the National Bureau of Statistics, conducted a pilot survey on Time Use in Nigeria.
He explained that the survey was conducted in five states namely: Lagos, Osun, Enugu, Kaduna, and Bauchi, and was designed to study how Nigerian households use their time.
“Since then, no other standalone Time Use Survey has been conducted, except as a module in one of our recently conducted surveys called ‘Feed the Future (FtF)’ in 2019/2020.
“One obvious gap in the pilot survey of 1998 was its inability to measure the value of unpaid work which could have been accounted for in the National Accounts of the country”, he said.
He said the nation’s inability to account for unpaid work pose several challenges which includes creating a distorted picture of a country’s economic output and productivity.
He said unpaid work, such as caregiving, household chores, volunteer work, and subsistence farming, constituted a significant portion of economic activities in any society.
“By excluding these contributions from the National Accounts, the true size and value of the economy are underestimated, leading to an incomplete understanding of its overall productivity and potential”, he said.
He said not measuring the value of unpaid work reinforced existing gender inequalities adding that the absence of data on unpaid work could hinder the monitoring and evaluation of social progress.
“By not including these activities in official statistics, it becomes difficult to assess the impact of policies and interventions on the well-being and quality of life of individuals engaged in unpaid work.
“This lack of data impedes evidence-based decision-making and inhibits the ability to measure and track progress towards social development goals.
“These are some of the challenges that a Time Use Survey seeks to address”, he said.
Similarly, Ms Beatrice Eyong, UN Women Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, said the gathering was not only an opportunity to seek financial support but also to enable stakeholders to discuss the objectives and benefits of the survey.
“Unpaid care and domestic work hold immense value, yet they often go unnoticed in government policy agendas.
“There is a prevailing misconception that these activities are challenging to measure, track, and report compared to standard market work.
“This misconception leads to the under-appreciation of the social and economic contributions made by women and men.
“However, the Time Use Survey provides us with an opportunity to gather evidence on how women and men spend their time, empowering us to guide policies that promote gender equality and empowerment.
“It also helps us to reduce the feminisation of poverty and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”, Eyong said.
In Nigeria, according to her, rural women bear a heavier burden of work than men, spending approximately 2.5 times more time on unpaid care and domestic tasks.
This burden, she explained, included a higher proportion of unpaid household responsibilities such as cooking, collecting firewood and water, and caring for children and the elderly.
“Consequently, this negatively affects their ability to participate fully in productive labour force activities.
Statisticians say a reliable data on time use in Nigeria would help to address these challenges that inhibit women from reaching their potential and contributing more to the the society.
“It will provide valuable data to inform gender-sensitive decision-making and facilitate the identification of clear comparative advantages across various sectors”, Eyong said.
Identifying a problem and fashioning out strategies to overcome it is one of best ways to attain target results.
Asabe Bashir, the Director-General, National Centre for Women’s Development (NCWD), therefore commended Statistician General of the Federation and UN Women for taking the steps towards solving a major national challenge.
Bashir, who was represented by Ijeoma Duru, Deputy Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, said the meeting reflected the need for a push for Nigerian women’s visibility and contributions to national development.
“On the part of NCWD, we will continue to drive the process of economically empowering women and champion researches that will provide evidence for planning,” she said.
Culled from NAN