Introducing 'Unpaid Care: Why and How to Invest'

A new policy briefing entitled, Unpaid Care: Why and How to Invest is now available on Policy and Practice. The document, written by Man-Kwun Chan, Influencing Adviser for Women’s Economic Empowerment and Care at Oxfam GB, is the first in a series of briefings written to inform key stakeholder groups about why and how they should recognise and address women’s heavy and unequal share of unpaid care work.

Women's economic empowerment is first and foremost a human rights issue, but research also shows that empowering women economically benefits whole economies, communities and households, not just women. Given this fact, the government briefing outlines four policy asks in turn, whilst providing quantifiable evidence of the benefits and including examples of how Southern governments have achieved successes in each area.

Ask 1: Include unpaid care commitments in policies and programmes, and collect data on unpaid care

Ask 2: Increase access to care-supporting infrastructure and services

Ask 3: Encourage men and boys to share care work

Ask 4: Give women an effective voice in policy-making, and a real opportunity to speak out about unpaid care

The briefing paper is one of a range of advocacy tools being developed to help Oxfam colleagues and allies to implement Oxfam’s new Unpaid Care Influencing Strategy, and specifically to promote the priority policy asks for Southern governments contained in this strategy.

Influencing (i.e. attempting to bring about changes in policy, investment and/or systematic practice that redress women’s and girls’ heavy and unequal unpaid care and domestic work) is a central focus of the WE-Care programme. This government briefing builds on knowledge gained from market insights research conducted in 2016-17 in collaboration with Ethicore on how to communicate our advocacy messages effectively to Southern governments. Speaking to the priorities of governments by emphasising what Southern governments have already achieved, and how further benefits can be reaped, it provides a persuasive, evidence-based, jargon-free advocacy tool.

The briefing is aimed at two key audiences:

  • National and local governments in Southern countries. Specifically interested and/or influential individuals within relevant government bodies who can have an impact on addressing our policy asks for Southern governments as set out in Oxfam’s Unpaid care influencing strategy. Relevant government bodies include finance, water, energy, health, education and agricultural ministries or departments. Note that gender ministries/departments will be addressed in a separate stakeholder briefing.
  • Oxfam colleagues and colleagues at other development and women’s rights organisations seeking to influence Southern governments on unpaid care.

Uses of the policy briefing:

  • A reference document providing key arguments, evidence and examples that can be used in tailored communications (e.g. presentations, emails, informal verbal pitches, local language policy briefs).
  • A document to be given directly to relevant individuals to reinforce other advocacy communications.
  • A base document that can be adapted to be more locally relevant (by replacing existing multiple-country examples with country-specific evidence, for example).

In summary, it is envisaged that this briefing will be used by colleagues working to influence government policy on unpaid care and by internal champions within target government organisations to effectively communicate and promote Oxfam’s key policy asks to their colleagues. It is hoped that the briefing will help raise the profile of the unpaid care agenda and convince Southern governments of the need to address heavy and unequal unpaid care and domestic work (as well as the benefits of doing so) and act on our policy asks. The key message is that women's economic empowerment is good for the whole economy, not just for women.

Read the full Policy Briefing here.

By Man-Kwun Chan, Influencing Adviser for Women’s Economic Empowerment and Care, Oxfam GB.

Photo: Aurelie Marrier d'Unienville / Oxfam. Ulita Mutambo’s husband Muchineripi Sibanda helps her hang up laundry outside their home in Ture Village, Zvishevane region, Zimbabwe.

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