EVER wondered what the true cost of caring is? Who cares the most? What caring costs us as an economy? As individuals? As women?! A new Oxfam report titled “Time to Care” explains exactly this.

It’s full of facts and figures that highlight the scale of global inequality linked to this type of work.

Care work is not simply about caring for the elderly or the unwell, it includes looking after children and those with additional needs, as well as daily domestic work like cleaning and cooking. The work that if people stop investing their time in, could stop workplaces, communities and entire economies from functioning.

The failure to recognise that our wealth economies are held up by unpaid carers can no longer go unnoticed.

Oftentimes we are pushing carers further and further into poverty, not just risking them as individuals but we risk what they are holding together. Our business people cannot do their business without the carer of their mother/child/home doing their bit.

It comes as no surprise when reading the report that women and girls pick up far more of this type of work than men do. And whilst there are numerous examples of the gender norm being broken, no one can argue that this societal norm is not still the norm.

When I had my children it was almost expected – in fact it may have actually been suggested by my employer – that I compress my hours. But for my husband it was a different story.

There is still a very clear expectation that women will pick up the bulk of the childcare and when men do pick it up they are considered heroic for doing so. This is a direct reference to a radio interview we once did as a family, in which we described how we balanced our work and childcare and even though I was still doing more than my husband.

The interviewer described him as “Superdad”.

Whilst I have never had to worry about the battle for equality within my relationship, when the reception of discussions around compressed hours and flexible working are so different for the different halves of the couple, that battle is then undeniably focused on the employer of the father.

There was a hesitation to ask a company about flexible working policies as the answer was already clear: a complete refusal to consider equal maternity/paternity leave as, despite the legality, the reply was already obvious; and, very honestly, a fear of being the minority in a world where he had rarely, or possibly even ever, been that.

But this isn’t simply about the need to break gender norms and to challenge the imbalance.

This about the need for systemic change. The need for the women and girls who are responsible for carrying out 12.5 billion hours of unpaid care every day to be rightly recognised and financially supported to be able to continue doing so and with their contribution being valued.

We exist in a world where wealth is valued over work.

Where someone who earns a large salary is recognised, recorded and appreciated in a way that the person holding together their employment and lifestyle isn’t. The people whom if we were without, our health and social care system would be unable to function.

In Scotland, people recognise this inequality and the need for action.

People are aware that these questions need to be put to those in power prior to the Scottish Budget next month.

They do not mistake this as me, or anyone else, saying that we do not want to care for our elderly relatives or for our children. We absolutely want to be able to do those things, but we want to be able to do it without being forced into poverty.

I want to care within a community and under a government that recognises that it is people who care who are holding up the economy and that they measure monetarily over and above the work that they are currently failing to sufficiently fund.