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Unpaid care

Providing care can be both a source of fulfilment and enjoyment, as well as a burden on precious time and resources. For women and girls in particular, their socially prescribed role as carers can undermine their rights and limit their opportunities, capabilities and choices. Their unpaid care work is often undervalued by society and policy makers and this lack of recognition, alongside the work’s intensity undermines dignity, obstructs access to basic human rights on an equal basis with men, and undermines progress towards gender equality.


This key issues page focuses on unpaid care which includes domestic work (meal preparation, cleaning, washing clothes, water and fuel collection) and direct care of persons (including children, older persons and persons with disabilities, as well able bodied adults). It is based on BRIDGE’s Gender and Care Cutting Edge Pack (2009) and updates content where debates or ideas have evolved and developed.

(Image credits: CIDSE / Flickr under Creative Commons License)
Gender and Care: Overview Report
Providing care can be both a source of fulfilment and a terrible burden. For women and girls in particular, their socially prescribed role as carers can undermine their rights and limit their opportunities, capabilities and choices - posing a fundamental obstacle to gender equality and well-being. How can we move towards a world in which individuals and society recognise and value the importance of different forms of care, but without reinforcing care work as something that only women can or should do?

The invisibility of unpaid care and why does care matters


Unpaid care forms a vital service and is the bedrock of many societies. The work undertaken sustains both households and the physical and psychological wellbeing of its members, as well as contributing to the functioning of the market economy. More...

Caring and impacts on rights


Although for many people, caring is a valued source of self-esteem and social legitimacy, rather than an injustice, for the poorest people the time, effort and other resources used in providing care can undermine their quality of life and well-being. More...

Promoting the care perspective in policymaking


Prioritising care on a policy agenda begins by demonstrating its important social and economic impact and costs. More...