The Imperative of Addressing Care Needs for G20 countries


This document outlines the position of a group of research and non-governmental organizations on care needs and care policies in the G20 countries. It provides a summary of why addressing care needs is fundamental for women’s economic empowerment and labour market participation and frames these policies in terms of protecting the right to care and be cared for. We call for more effort to recognize, reduce, redistribute and represent unpaid care work and to protect the rights of paid care workers. We provide a number of examples of successful policy and programme initiatives for G20 countries to consider expanding in their own domestic policy agenda as well as their development assistance to further women’s economic empowerment globally.


Worldwide, the responsibility for unpaid care work (UCW) falls disproportionally on women and girls, leaving them less time for education, leisure, self-care, political participation, paid work and other economic activities. The social construction of gender roles and responsibilities shapes and reinforces the gender division of labour where men are over-represented in paid work and women in unpaid care work. Yet while these patterns are changing and more women are entering paid work, the bulk of unpaid care work continues to be undertaken by women and girls (Figure 1), leading to longer work days and more time poverty.

Much of unpaid care work is devoted to caring for household members and household provisioning such as cooking, cleaning, washing, mending and making clothes. Gender gaps in unpaid care work tend to be greater in those countries with poorer infrastructure and less well-developed education and social protection systems (Figure 1). They are also higher in those countries with more discriminatory social institutions that place normative and legal restrictions on women’s economic and social rights and mobility (Figure 2). This said, however, it should be noted that in all G20 countries, women spend more time on UCW than men.


Document: Gender Economic Equity - The Need of Addressing Care Needs for G20 countries