The Senegalese care sector is mainly characterized by education and health. Initiatives and policies like the 2008 “SESAME Plan,” the 2017 National Policy for Healthy Ageing, gratuity of healthcare for children under 5 years of age, and the “Education for All” programs all exemplify this focus. These are all excellent initiatives, but in a country with more than twice the global fertility rate – Senegal sits at 4.7% compared to the global average of 2.3% – the Senegal care sector lacks significant early childcare infrastructure. Pre-primary school had a potential demand of 1,386,781 children in 2018, but only saw an access rate of 18.1% in the same year. Additionally, there is no established legal and institutional framework for setting up early childcare infrastructures like day nursery.
All this implies that childcare is mostly done in the household, and likely primarily by women. In fact, in line with the traditional division of labour that guides social and cultural behavior in Senegal, most informal care work done in households or involving domestic labour is accomplished by women. Core studies done by CREG-CREFAT in 2016 on the issue of gendered division of work valuated unpaid work and found that, while unpaid care accounts for 11.2% of Senegal’s GDP, women contributed 7.8% compared to men’s contribution of 3.4%.
The 2021 Senegalese’s time use survey (ENETS 2021) initiated by UN-Women in collaboration with the ministry of women, family and child protection, observed the same gender difference trend in time allocation. The survey showed Senegalese women spend 5 hours per day in unpaid activities relative to men who spend only 2 hours. These unpaid activities are mostly composed of care work in the household and unpaid volunteering, with the majority of time – around 4.2 of this 5 hour average – dedicated to domestic work and child care. The opposite trend is observed when it comes to paid activities; men spend an average of 4.2 hours doing paid activities compared to women who spend only 1.9 hours in paid work.
People who work as domestic workers, performing work for one or more households as a profession, comprise about 4.5 % of paid workers globally. Domestic workers in Senegal, however, represent 5.3% of total workers and 89.2% of them in 2015 were women. Among these domestic workers, 99.3% are in the informal employment.