We need to revolutionize care systems if we are to achieve the 2030 Agenda


New York, 12 July 2018: In some countries where the economic contribution of women’s unpaid care and domestic work has been measured, its value exceeds 30 percent of GDP, making it the largest subsidy to the global economy and currently a source of reproduction of inequality, which needs to be addressed in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda, says the third edition of the report Spotlight on Sustainable Development.

Corina Rodríguez Enríquez, Executive Committee member of Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) and author of the chapter that analyzes the relationship between care systems and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), shows that care is a crosscutting issue along all of the SDGs, directly related to growth, decent work, poverty, hunger, health, education, water and sanitation, infrastructure, and inequality.

She recalls that care and domestic work has been identified as a foundation of sustainable development, since it is essential for day-to-day living, for people´s reproduction and for the whole survival of the society.

However, the current distribution of care work represents a massive burden on women’s lives, in what the report describes as an “unfair social organization of care”. It stresses that in all countries where time use surveys have been implemented, the gap between women and men is evident in terms of the time devoted to care and domestic activities, in some cases exceeding 100 percent. The burden of domestic responsibilities increases in the absence of public provision of care services and of basic social infrastructures, such as water, electricity, and sanitation.

The report refers to global care chains, through which care work is transferred from middle-class women in more developed countries to migrant workers, and from the latter to the unpaid work of women in the least developed countries. “Global care chains are strong evidence of the transnational mechanisms that deepen inequality both within and between countries”, it affirms.

Rodríguez Enríquez warns that the current unfair social organization of care is not only the main barrier to women’s economic participation, but it also constitutes a social problem: “women’s overly demanding workload and time burden lead to fragile, precarious and unsustainable care arrangements that represent a threat to the future development of boys and girls, and increases the vulnerability of dependent elderly people and people with disabilities.”

She calls on States to implement integrated care policies that give people a flexible choice between care services and unpaid care work, and that take into account the diversity of personal and family situations: “In brief, creating, improving and expanding care systems (revolutionizing them) is key to achieving many if not all of the SDGs”.

The Spotlight report is launched yearly in coincidence with the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) of the United Nations. It is published by a broad range of civil society organizations and trade unions and provides the most comprehensive independent assessment of the SDGs.

Click here to go to the Spotlight 2018 website