Lietuvos Respublikos Seimas

G. Purvaneckienės komandiruotės į Taliną (Estijos Respublikos)2003 02 12-15 ataskaita

2003 m. vasario 12-15 d. buvau komandiruota į Trečiąją Baltijos jūros moterų konferenciją “Moterys, vyrai ir demokratija”, kuri įvyko Taline. Kaip Seimo Šeimos ir vaiko reikalų komisijos (kurios kompetencijoje yra ir lygių galimybių klausimai) pirmininkė, buvau šios konferencijos organizacinio komiteto nare.

Konferencijoje skaičiau pranešimą plenariniame posėdyje tema “Sprendimų priėmimas šeimoje”. (Pranešimo tekstas anglų kalba pridedamas).


Giedrė Purvaneckienė

Šeimos ir vaiko reikalų komisijos pirmininkė


Dr. Giedre Purvaneckiene

Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania


Decision-making on the family level is interconnected with power, authority and position of the individual in the family. In general, the one with greater authority in the family has more authority in the society at large, as well. Aspects of social environment that might account for differential advantage of women and men include the laws of the society, religion, occupational structure, political system, etc. The source of authority to make decisions in the family highly depends on the resources controlled by husband and wife, i.e. education, income, occupational status, property ownership. At the same time, it depends on the personality, alternatives outside one’s marriage, the norms of one’s peers and reference groups, and the overall status of women and men in the society.

Research data on decision-making in the family in the Baltic States are rather scarce, nonetheless, they are complementary due to the common history of these countries in the 20th century. The development of family structures and traditions contains more similarities than differences. Some disparities might be associated with different dominant religions (Roman Catholicism in Lithuania, and Protestantism in Estonia and Latvia).

The discussion on decision-making in the family calls for a more in-depth look into the changes in family structures that occurred over last years. Due to low marriage rate, high divorce rate and increasing number of cohabitation, the proportion of single persons or single-parent (mainly single-mother) families is comparatively high. In the latter case, there is no sense in discussing power or authority of decision-making in the family. The issue of decision making is relevant only to couples. Let us analyse in greater detail the household structure in the Baltic States (Table 1).

Table 1


Type of household Estonia Latvia Lithuania

Women living alone 20.1 20.9 18.4

Men living alone 11.1 11.8 5.7

Mother with children 6.1 4.8 5.8

Father with children 0.3 0.3 0.1

Couple without children 19.4 17.5 18.2

Couple with children 19.5 18.5 25.0

Other household type without children 14.3 15.1 15.5

Other household type with children 9.2 11.1 11.3

Source: Women and Men in the Baltic countries 2002.

The similarities in household structure in the three countries are evident. A distinctive feature of the Baltic structure of households is that typical nuclear families (both parents with children) account only for one fourth or less of all households.

No exact statistics on couples living in cohabitation have been gathered, nonetheless, the growing number of children born out of wedlock reflects shrinkage of the sector of traditional marriage (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Percentage of children born out of wedlock in the Baltic States in 1990, 1995, and 2000.

There are differences between the countries in the numbers of children born out of wedlock (probably, associated with religion), however, trends are the same.

Statistical data mentioned above prove that it speaking about the decision-making in families is quite problematic because family structure plays an important role here.

Prior to the analysis of the status of women and men in the family, it should be stated that equal rights of women and men in the family, their equal rights and responsibilities towards children, and equal property rights are guaranteed by the laws of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The overall status of women and men in the societies will be a topic of other presentations. I should only draw you attention to the fact that women and men in the Baltic countries are almost equally involved in the labour market.

Anyway, let us try to consider some research findings available on family arrangements. I was unable to obtain any data on decision-making in Estonia or Latvia; however, the division of responsibilities within the family is an indirect indication of the status that female and male family members have.

Recent research conducted in Latvia revealed that 73% of women were primarily responsible for all housekeeping in the family. Another study found that employed women spent almost twice as many hours on housekeeping than employed men, while time spent by the same women in their remunerated jobs was only slightly shorter. As a result, employed men had more time for both physiological needs (eating, sleeping, bathroom time) and leisure – over an hour extra a day, in fact (Table 2). In child-breeding households, differences in the contribution were even sharper: while single women spent on housekeeping about 10 hours per week more than single men, women who were a part of a couple with children spent an average of 20 hours more on domestic chores than their spouses.

Table 2


Activity Men Women

Physiological needs 72:06 69:50

Salaried job 51:20 46:45

Studies 1:02 1:05

Housekeeping 15:44 28:03

Free time 27:05 21:48

Undistributed time 0:43 0:35

Research results in Estonia showed very similar trends. The traditional division of gender roles is rather popular, and the majority of Estonian women bear the heaviest burden in housekeeping. According to a survey conducted by the Association of Trade Unions among their female members, two thirds of the women shouldered the burden of housekeeping by themselves, and only 22% shared the work equally with their husbands/partners. In the 1990’s, the proportion of housekeeping done by women alone increased. The surveys on women’s leisure time supported this fact and revealed a substantial disproportion between the leisure time available to women and men (Table 3).

Table 3


Family status Men Women

Single, no children, under 35 57 45

Married, no children 47 31

Married, children under 6 32 14

Married, children aged 7-17 33 13

Married, adult child at home 34 18

As expected, working women with small children at home have the shortest free time. A pilot study conducted by the Statistics Office on leisure time proved that adult women spent an average of 5.9 hours per day on housekeeping, whereas men spent only 3.9 hours per day.

In Lithuania, the comparative study Women in the Lithuanian Society carried out in 1994 and 2000 concluded that attitudes of the Lithuanian people to family and gender role models were modernising. The ideal family model shifted from asymmetrical (the male being the breadwinner, the female being responsible for the housekeeping) to symmetrical with both spouses employed and taking care of their home and children. However, in reality, the share of domestic chores performed by a woman increased in 2000 compared with 1994 (Table 4).

Table 4


Married men, % Married women,%

Family member who, ...., is: Man Woman Both Man Woman Both

... does everyday meals... 1994 4 73 16 3 76 13

2000 3 79 17 3 81 12

...cleans the accommodation... 1994 3 60 26 4 66 17

2000 4 79 18 5 73 14

...does everyday shopping... 1994 10 50 34 12 56 23

2000 8 64 27 8 67 23

...washes dishes... 1994 4 57 27 5 62 19

2000 5 66 21 3 72 18

...looks after the disabled and elderly... 1994 3 33 37 2 37 33

2000 3 35 26 3 40 23

...washes and irons clothes... 1994 3 76 14 2 76 14

2000 3 83 11 2 83 9

...takes important decisions... 1994 33 16 48 24 33 38

2000 27 16 54 16 31 52

Concerning decision-making, the opinion of women and men is slightly different. Most women and men are of opinion that both spouses take an equal part in the decision making. However, women think that they rather than men are the real decision-makers more frequently. While men, on the contrary, more often consider that it is them and not women who take decisions. Though in general, a shift to common decision-making is evident, in the opinion of Lithuanians.

Considering similarities in the tendencies of changes in the family life in the Baltic countries, a general conclusion could be drawn that attitudes towards the family are modernising, common decision-making prevails, however, traditional division of gender roles in housekeeping is gaining yet more strength.

Naujausi pakeitimai - 2003 10 10.
Eglė Lasauskaitė

   >   Istorija  >   2000 - 2004 m. Seimas  >   Seimo narių komandiruotės ir kelionės  >   2000 - 2004 m. ataskaitos  >   ESTIJA

LR Seimas