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Women care workers and their rights

May 06, 2009

Gender and care, a report by BRIDGE assesses the importance of different forms of care work. It gives an insight into the rights and opportunities of women involved in care-taking and highlights the need for more commitment in gender advocacy.

Gender and care

Publisher: Institute of Development Studies, January 2009

Providing care can be both a source of fulfilment and a terrible burden. For women and girls in particular, their socially prescribed role as carers can undermine their rights and limit their opportunities, capabilities and choices – posing a fundamental obstacle to gender equality and well-being.


At the root of these crises is the decreasing availability and willingness of women and girls to do unpaid care work – linked to positive trends such as near universal rises in female participation in the labour force and girls increasing school enrolment. At the same time, the need for care is escalating.

There are many compelling reasons why care should be on the development agenda.

Realising this vision requires strategies are to be made:

  • De-feminise care-giving – challenging assumptions that care work is the domain of women and not men. This can help create the foundations for a more equal sharing of care responsibilities between women and men.
  • Re-conceptualise unpaid care as valuable and productive – a key step in terms of ensuring that public investment serves the needs of those engaged in care work.

Among the recommendations made in this report, there are four key, overarching recommendations:

  • Care work must be recognised as a core development issue.
  • Development policies and programmes must challenge stereotyped assumptions about gender roles.
  • Initiatives to promote women’s economic participation must include an analysis of the interrelationship between paid work and care work.
  • Greater solidarity is needed among those working on the full range of care issues.

The report has explored various ways to achieve this:

  • Educational workshops and media campaigns.
  • Policies to expand paternity leave entitlements; and social protection measures designed to recognise the diversity of family and care.
  • Women to be able to make their own choices.
  • Political commitment and dedicated resources.
Source : Bridge
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