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Redistributing care

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Redistributing care

The Policy Challenge You do not have access to this content

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31 Dec 2013
9789210560177 (PDF)

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This publication offers a representative sample of the thinking developed over recent years in relation to time use, time-use measurement and related policies in Latin America. The issue of care and its importance and meaning have become part of the gender agenda in the region, especially since the tenth session of the Region Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Quito in 2007.
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  • Foreword
    The data for Latin America are eloquent: in all 18 countries where time use has been studied, women’s total work time (the sum of paid and unpaid work) is greater than men’s, and women spend more time on unpaid work. Conversely, men devote more time to paid work than women do.
  • Prologue: Engendering economic progress
    Gendered analysis of economic, political and social spaces not only reveals discrimination and the lack of understanding of women and their contributions (the usual laments), but also leads to a better understanding of intersectionality and of political and economic theories and contributes to a more precise measurement of social, political and economic realities. The outcome of this improvement in measurement directly affects the achievement of goals, which are universally defined in terms of justice and progress, however elusive and controversial the term.
  • Introduction
    The purpose of this publication is to offer a subtantial sample of the thinking over recent years about time use, its measurement and the policies associated with it in the region. Numerous studies and some policies have engaged with this field of knowledge. Much of the available literature has been written by academics in the United States and Europe, primarily feminist economists. In Latin America, in the main, the subject of care and its importance and meaning have come on to the gender agenda since the tenth session of the Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Quito in 2007.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Impoverishing work and policy blindness

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    • Redistributing care: Towards a public policy nexus
      As a result of national and international political efforts, the influence of the women's movement and the social and cultural changes of the second half of the twentieth century, substantial progress has been made towards gender equality in Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC, 2010b). However, there are still some critical issues that are delaying progress towards equality, since social and economic change itself has been crystallizing new forms and manifestations of inequality. Among the main barriers that persist is the rigidity of the sexual distribution of labour whereby women are responsible for personal care in the home, while sexual equality in paid work and other public spheres remains limited.
    • Social protection and the redistribution of care in Latin America and the Caribbean: The breadth of policy
      The gender dimension of social potection policies and their effects on women's autonomy and empowerment have been analysed from various angles, all converging on the sexual division of labour and the ability of policies to shift this in the direction of gender equality. The present analysis takes the same approach from the perspective of care redistribution, examining the potential offered by social welfare policies for a shift towards a concept of care as a universal right, and thus as a State duty and a responsibility shared not only between women and men, but between the different institutions in society as well.
    • The utilization of time-use surveys in public policy
      Work is usually thought of as a source of income, even wealth, or at least as a way of obtaining the economic sustenance necessary to live, but there is a type of work that impoverishes the person doing it: unpaid work. As is well known, this is done predominantly by women and includes care work, parenting, housework and community or voluntary work. It meets society's care and welfare needs and makes a vital contribution that has nonetheless been denied visibility and even the status of work. While this is still largely the case in academia, official statistics and public politics, there have been substantial improvements; at the conceptual level in particular, there have been huge contributions from feminist economics and sociology, which have transcended their disciplinary boundaries and begun to penetrate into other scientific and political spheres.
    • Women's work: Some considerations deriving from an integrated approach based on time-use surveys and employment statistics
      Women's work is an essential element in the functioning of the economic and social system. Labour market participation is the most visible dimension of women's contribution to wealth creation and to households' material living standards and economic survival. Unpaid work is the other side of the coin.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Experience concerning the sexual division of labour and public policy

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    • Is a new patriarchal family model taking shape in rural areas?
      The patriarchal family model is grounded in socioeconomic and cultural constructs whereby males assume the role of head of household and breadwinner and have power and authority over the female members of the household, who occupy a subordinate position and whose primary role is the performance of domestic chores and caregiving. This model appears to be on the decline in Latin America, albeit to varying degrees in the different countries. Signs of this are to be found in the dramatic changes seen in the make-up of families and in other economic, demographic, social and cultural processes that have been unfolding over the past century (Rico and Maldonado, 2011; Cerrutti and Binstock, market has been highlighted as a very significant step forward. This has largely been driven by the dramatic cultural changes associated with largely been driven by the dramatic cultural changes associated with women’s desire to have an identity in their own right, autonomy and economic independence.
    • Models of the intrahousehold division of total labour: Ecuador and Mexico
      The aim of this report is to provide a more in-depth study into the distribution of total labour (paid and unpaid) among the members of different types of household and analyse the determining factors. A distinction is made between two-parent, lone-parent and extended households, because work is organized according to different rationales within them, based on the sexual and inter-generational division of labour. The cases of Ecuador and Mexico are studied on the basis of time-use, employment and income surveys in both countries.
    • Social protection and unpaid work: Redistribution of caregiving tasks and responsibilities - A case study of Costa Rica
      A rigid sexual division of labour is one of the continuing barriers on the path to gender equality. This is especially significant in terms of the responsibility assigned to women for caregiving in the home, which limits gender equality in paid work and other public spheres. The main challenge to breaking down this barrier is to redistribute total work, both paid and unpaid, with the latter consisting mainly of care provided in the home. It is therefore recommended to increase not only the role of the state, market and society, but also men’s participation in dependent care tasks, as prerequisites for achieving a society where men and women are both breadwinners and caregivers (ECLAC, 2010).
    • Social protection and unpaid work: Redistribution of caregiving tasks and responsibilities - A case study of Ecuador
      Recent shifts in the emphasis of Ecuador’s welfare system have refocussed attention on the state’s role as provider and regulator of basic social services, the recognition of work as a key factor in welfare and growth, and the need to gear social and economic policies towards reducing inequality. At the same time, recent global crisis events have shown not only that economic systems are too weak to ensure sustainable employment and development but also that families use a wide variety of strategies to survive crises and actually shore up these systems. Many of their survival strategies have involved domestic and care work, which has also stepped in to cover social services in the absence of the State. Historically women have been in charge of covering these services, mostly at the expense of their own opportunities and well-being, with adverse consequences for the economy and society’s welfare.
    • Home care and the recovery of subjectivity: The case of Mexico
      Most research on how population ageing affects labour needs and availability in the care sector, and on the implications for the independence and autonomy of women (as unpaid or poorly paid labour), has been conducted from the viewpoints of demography and economics. But human complexity being as it is, the research should also extend to other disciplines that can take affective and emotional aspects into account. Thus, the recommendation that care services be provided in a way that is functional for the development of the economic system —and which, as a consequence, affords priority to those who engage or will engage in economic reproduction— must be complemented by an integrated approach that considers the recipients of care, regardless of the place they occupy in the economic system, their age or any other individual characteristic. That is, as well as looking at what is happening in society and in the family, research must explore what happens to the individuals receiving and giving care.
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