Enabling Women’s Economic Empowerment

New Approaches to Unpaid Care Work in Developing Countries

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Women’s unequal share of unpaid care work can prevent their full participation in the economies of developing countries; however, care needs are growing globally. How can governments and development partners meet the needs of families and communities, while ensuring that all citizens benefit from economic opportunities and fair remuneration? As part of the OECD Policy Dialogue on Women’s Economic Empowerment, this report focuses on identifying what works to address unpaid care work and sheds light on how governments, donors in the private sector and civil society actors – among others – can design policies to support both those who need care and those who provide care. The report brings together existing knowledge of policy options for unpaid care work across regions, in four policy areas: infrastructure, social protection, public services and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household.



Framework and methodology

This policy paper adapts the framework used by Chopra, Kelbert and Iyer (2013[1]) to conduct a political economy analysis of how unpaid care concerns are considered with regard to early childhood development and social protection policies. The authors’ framework looks at the intent and design of polices as well as their implementation and outcomes to determine which combinations of actors, institutions, ideas and incentives, and windows of opportunity/moments in time are conducive to the adoption of policies dealing with unpaid care. The authors also identify key issues that have not been adequately addressed in the literature so far. These issues are the interests, motivations and interactions of different players working to incorporate unpaid care; how the choice of specific pathways to achieve the 3Rs is made; whether enough resources are allocated to achieve the intended policy outcomes; and evidence as to whether in fact these outcomes have been achieved.


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