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 promoting shared responsibility within the household address women’s unpaid care work?

The chapter begins by noting persistent and pervasive perceptions that fuel the social norms underpinning gender differences in time spent on unpaid care work within households. It goes on to describe approaches to promoting shared responsibility – involving men in community discussions, gathering evidence of time use gaps between women and men, and the potential contribution of the media (including the use of champions and role models) are among the examples cited. The focus then turns to lessons learned in the three focus countries, Brazil, Kenya and Nepal (See Annex A for the criteria for selecting the three focus countries). The study highlights specific efforts of non-governmental organisations in these countries as the primary actors in promoting shared responsibility, rather than government. The chapter closes with current attempts to monitor and measure changes in social norms.


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