Undervalued and unrecognised: the importance of women’s unpaid care work for the post-2015 agenda

23rd June 2015

International advocacy workshop opens up possibilities for collaboration on human rights, gender equality and unpaid care

Who CAre

Across the world, unpaid care work is an obstacle for gender equality. These responsibilities, such as childcare and housework, fall disproportionately on women and girls.

The biggest impact is on those living in poverty – women who are less likely to have access to public sector provision and afford private services or technology to make their lives easier. Unpaid care responsibilities can impact on their access to decent paid work, education, health care, leisure time and political participation.

From January 22-23 2015, activists, researchers and representatives of civil society organisations who are part of the global movement for stronger policy and legislation on care work – paid and unpaid – came together in Bangkok, Thailand. The third Global Care Advocacy Workshop was co-hosted by Asia Pacific Forum for Women Law and Development, ActionAid International, Helevtas Nepal and the Institute of Development Studies.

At the event, opportunities were identified to link national and global policy agendas in order to better recognise, reduce and redistribute care. The workshop also explored feminist economics, analysed neoliberal policies and how they impact on care, and did a political mapping exercise to look at the key decision-makers in international and regional spaces.

The workshop opened up possibilities for more collaboration between movements on labour rights and unpaid care, particularly in relation to domestic work.

Care and the SDGs

The proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), due to be finalised at the end of 2015, include a target on unpaid care work under Goal 5: ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women’.

The workshop reviewed the current wording and highlighted that challenges remain. For example, it was felt that there is still a need for more specific language, which puts the focus on the State and redistribution of care from poor families to the State. It was also suggested that a rights-based approach needed to be made clearer.

The Gender and Development Network have previously recommend that the wording be changed to: 'by 2030, recognize, reduce and redistribute unpaid domestic and care work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection, and the promotion of shared responsibility between men and women.'

The Global Advocacy workshop identified that creative and progressive indicators could be one way to make the broader targets on the SDGs more specific, and highlighted the next eight months as crucial in advocating on unpaid care and the post-2015 development agenda.

Find out more about unpaid care and the Thailand Global Care Advocacy workshop here at the Interactions website.

Photo taken from the IDS/Matters of the Earth animation 'Who Cares'