Global Resources

Unpaid care: a priority for the post-2015 development goals and beyond

Author: J. Woodroffe, K. Donald
Publisher: United Kingdom Gender and Development Network
Publication Date: Jan 2014
Having been consistently ignored and taken for granted in public policy and development efforts, it appears that discussion of the crucial issue of unpaid care work is finally gaining traction. A consensus is emerging, based on a growing body of evidence, regarding the impact that the disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care provision placed on women is having on gender equality, women’s rights, and poverty.

This consensus has resulted in the recent inclusion of a specific unpaid care sub-goal under the gender equality goal of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In order to ensure that the momentum is maintained, and that the issue of unpaid care is retained in the finalised post-2015 agreement, the Gender and Development Network produced this policy brief in 2014.

The brief summarises and re-emphasises the scale of the issue: the global nature of the issue; the heavy burden placed on women; the lack of opportunity and restrictions on time women face; the perpetuation of poverty; the entrenchment of inequality down class, racial, and ethnic lines; and the negative stereotypes that label care as ‘women’s work’ assigning to women an inferior social status.

This publication goes on to make recommendations, building on the Open Working Group's proposal. The authors recommend a target to fully recognise the extent of unpaid care work, and reduce the amount of care work that poor women do both through fairer sharing between men and women, and better provision of care and public services by governments. The authors propose indicators for this target that would foster and assess progress in a number of areas; all are measurable, with many based on data that is already being collected.

Finally, the brief looks at practical ways to achieve change by setting out different approaches and measures. These range from scaling up piped water infrastructure to tackling social norms through education. It then highlights success stories across different countries to show that these actions are feasible, and can have a profound impact in removing barriers to the achievement of gender equality and women’s rights.

[adapted from source]