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.


How can public services address women’s unpaid care work?

This chapter discusses the impact of gender-sensitive approaches to the provision of public services on women’s unpaid care work. It begins with a look at the care need figures for different population groups, the largest of which is children. It then describes provision of care services – to children, the elderly, carers themselves – by different classes of social actors: the state as a direct provider, the market, and third sector organisations. The focus then turns to approaches to unpaid caregiving under the umbrella of public services that have been attempted in the case countries of Brazil, Kenya and Nepal; examples are given of NGOs and other, newer actors (e.g. social enterprises) stepping in to specifically address this burden when public health systems have not. Childcare services – especially preschool provision (ECD) – are explored, with Nairobi City Council furnishing an instructive example of collaboration with other actors to extend and upgrade provision of these services in the market.


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