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 social protection address women’s unpaid care work?

This chapter explores ways in which social protection policies can address women’s unpaid care work. It begins with a look at coverage gaps associated with significant underinvestment in social protection, such as in maternity leave and paid parental leave for men. There follows a discussion of policy options to redress women’s socio-economic disadvantage resulting from unpaid care responsibilities. Highlighted are the interventions of health and social insurance; cash transfer programmes; cash-for-care benefits; public works programmes; pensions; and leave benefits. The dynamics of such programmes are examined through examples from the focus countries: provision of welfare payments or transfers to enable families to care for vulnerable groups (Kenya); adapting social security and benefits to address the specific needs of unpaid care workers (Brazil); and expansion of the Social Security Fund to include informal workers and provide allowances to different categories of women, though not explicitly recognising their role in caring work (Nepal).


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