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 infrastructure address women’s unpaid care work

This chapter examines physical infrastructure’s potential for reducing and redistributing the time and effort women spend on unpaid care work in different intervention areas. Examples are furnished of time use data serving to guide investment decisions (water access); of how investments are context-dependent and might not always save time (electrification); of the effectiveness of gender-sensitive planning (transport); and of one factor behind a greater engagement of men in care and household tasks (labour- and time-saving technologies). Few programmes benefiting women actually have the explicit aim of reducing the drudgery of unpaid work or monitoring time use; initiatives undertaken by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the NGO Helvetas are introduced as rare exceptions. The chapter concludes by describing the benefits of having women engaged in project design and investment decisions, and the pitfalls of scaling up through market based solutions.


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