The inclusion of unpaid care in the post-2015 framework is vital to spur meaningful progress towards gender equality, and will have positive impacts on the achievement of many other development goals.
Freeing women’s time from caring duties will enhance their prospects for economic empowerment and political participation. Fairer sharing of care roles will reduce the risk of violence against women, improve the health outcomes and educational opportunities of both women and their children, and create space to challenge discriminatory gender stereotypes. The key is to foster a more equal sharing of unpaid care within households and communities, and ensure better provision of public services to support care. The briefing concludes with recommendations for a target on unpaid care within a standalone gender goal, and indicators that could be used to measure progress.
The Gender and Development Network is delighted that the issue of unpaid care is now being discussed in the context of the post-2015 framework. In the ‘zero draft’ proposed goals and targets issued following the 11th session of the Open Working Group, a target on unpaid care work is included (point 5.6). It is now crucial that Member States make unpaid care work a priority issue for the final framework. Below we lay out the reasons why unpaid care should be incorporated into the post-2015 agenda – and how.
A striking consensus is emerging about the importance of unpaid care work; but there is still a real risk it could be left out, partly due to some misunderstandings of the issue. Looking back on this process in 10 or 15 years this exclusion would be cause for great regret, especially given the ever-growing body of evidence on the impact of unpaid care work on women’s rights and poverty.
The omission of violence against women from the Millennium Development Goals – in the face of claims that it was a ‘cultural’ issue and not relevant to development – is now seen as a clear oversight. Like violence against women, the unfair and unequal distribution of unpaid care work spans all cultures and societies –and must be tackled forcefully as an obstacle to gender equality and development and an affront to women’s rights and dignity. Women’s overwhelming responsibility for unpaid care work is not a ‘cultural’ issue to be relegated to the private sphere: it is a transcultural phenomenon with profound social and economic impacts. Everyone receives and gives unpaid care at some point in their lives; it occurs daily in every household in the world. If included in national accounts, the unpaid care economy would represent between 15 to over 50 percent of national Gross Domestic Products.