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Press Release
Unilever’s Surf Launches Unique Partnership with Oxfam to Lighten the Load of Women’s Unpaid Care Work

Unilever’s laundry brand, Surf, today announces a unique three-year partnership with Oxfam that aims to recognise, reduce and redistribute the amount of time spent by women and girls on unpaid care work. Crucially the collaboration will challenge social norms by encouraging the equitable distribution of unpaid work.

In some parts of the world women and girls currently spend as many as six hours a day on unpaid care work* – a vital contribution that disproportionately affects women and girls and often goes unrecognised. This can limit their ability to take opportunities to earn a living, participate in public life, and pursue an education. The partnership includes providing funding to improve access to water in communities in the Philippines and Zimbabwe to help reduce the time it takes to do household chores. This will affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, a large proportion of whom will be women and girls. It also aims to reach millions of people globally by supporting activities to increase awareness the impact unpaid care work has on women and girls’ lives.

Alex Lankester, Head of Corporate Partnerships at Oxfam, said: “We know that protecting women’s human rights is a vital step in ending poverty. Unpaid care work limits women’s ability to choose how they spend their time, and by tackling social norms we can make real progress. Oxfam’s expertise in providing water and women’s rights means we are in a strong position to pioneer a new and effective approach. We have already seen strong results from our pilot projects and working with Unilever will help us achieve far greater scale and impact.”

Commenting on the launch, Stefano Giolito, Senior Global Brand Director at Unilever, said: “Responsibility for unpaid care falls on the shoulders of women and girls. In some parts of the world, women are spending most of their time on household chores – including laundry – at the expense of opportunities to learn and work. Water scarcity increases the time spent on domestic chores with girls and women going to great efforts to obtain water; in some parts of Africa and Asia, women walk on average six kilometres every day to the nearest water source.

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“We have gained important insight from our portfolio of brands and products used by millions of consumers every day; Surf alone reaches 100 million households world-wide. We will use this knowledge, with Oxfam, to work to alleviate some of this load, making laundry easier and changing social norms to empower women and girls to have more choice over how they spend their time.”

“Collaboration is the key to making a real difference on development issues and this programme is a great example of partnership, combining Oxfam’s proven methodologies in addressing unpaid care work and our expertise in marketing, technology and consumer insights.”

Unilever aims to empower 5 million women by advancing opportunities for women in its operations; promoting safety; providing up-skilling; and expanding opportunities in its retail operations. The programme is set to start in the Philippines and Zimbabwe towards the end of the year.

*OECD Report: Unpaid Care Work: The missing link in the analysis of gender gaps in labour outcomes


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