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.




This chapter points to some of the conditions that persistently place a disproportionate burden of unpaid care work on women. It presents the case for correcting the imbalance with regard to women’s economic empowerment and details international commitments such as Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 5.4, which proposes tackling the problem on four policy fronts: public services, infrastructure, social protection policies and shared responsibility within the household. Lines of action to be taken are introduced through “the 3Rs approach” – recognise, redistribute and reduce unpaid care work. The chapter concludes with acknowledgement that women are not a homogeneous group but face intersecting inequalities that may restrict their ability to benefit from certain policy and programme interventions. Thus, the relative priority accorded the different policy domains and specific measures within them will necessarily depend on the particular context.


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