Time-use mapping


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Participatory time-use exercises provide a useful tool for enabling discussion on women's unpaid care work, and to generate ideas on how this work could be better recognised, reduced and redistributed.


This exercise enables male and female participants to reflect on gender differences in time use. It usually reveals the disproportionate number of hours spent by women doing unpaid care work, compared to men.

Ask male and female participants to write down their daily routines, starting from the time they wake up to when they go to bed. Then ask them to discuss their routines in mixed groups including both men and women. Ask each group to share key points from their discussion and open out the conversation to all participants. 

Revealing gender disparities in time use in Kenya

The method was used by World Food Programme staff in Kenya who wanted to understand more about gender relations and how to engage with men in Cash For Assets and other programmes.

Groups of men and women participated in a 12 hour clock time-use mapping exercise, which helped to identify women's and men's daily activities and their productive roles. Findings showed that women's time is spent on triple roles: reproductive (child bearing, care), productive (e.g. casual labour, subsistence farming, household chores, etc.) and community (e.g. working on community assets, merry-go-round informal group savings, etc.). Men's time is spent on productive roles (farming own land, paid casual labour, charcoal burning, etc.) but they also have time for community activities and socialising.

Highlighting unequal gender roles in school feeding programmes and beyond

In Cambodia and Benin, World Food Programme staff worked with small groups of local women working as cooks for school feeding programmes to find out more about the gendered dimensions of their work and life.

The inquiry teams wanted to understand more about the women’s daily routines and the ways in which they managed the largely voluntary work in the school kitchens in addition to domestic unpaid care work and other productive work. They asked the women to describe a typical day in the life of a cook, and encouraged them to draw pictures to depict activities in these daily routines. They used this time map as the basis for asking more personal questions about the participants’ lives and their work as cooks, as well as asking about changes they would like to see.

In both Benin and Cambodia it was clear that the cooks were devoting a large part of their day to the school feeding programmes, and were then returning home to undertake productive farm work, selling produce in local markets and carrying out unpaid care duties such as cooking and cleaning in their homes. Their valuable work was not being formally recognised by the schools, and incentives were often poor or non-existent. The exercise helped staff in both countries to see where changes could be made - for example by improving working conditions for cooks, providing cash as well as in-kind contributions and encouraging men as well as women from local communities to apply for the cook roles.