Through our research, we identified four high-potential intervention areas for the alleviation of unpaid care work: care services, social norms change, infrastructure and technological solutions, and data. While some interventions are newer and require further experimentation and evidence gathering, many others are immediately scalable and have been shown to work across multiple contexts in both high and lower income settings.
While all four areas are concerned with recognizing, reducing, and redistributing UCW in a more equitable fashion, each has unique considerations that should be taken into account. The recommendations below suggest how progress could be accelerated in each intervention area.
Unpaid care work (UCW)—which includes domestic work and direct care of other persons—is necessary for basic survival. While often viewed as a rewarding labor of love, UCW also has tremendous, though largely unrecognized, economic value. As of 2015, UCW throughout the world was estimated to be worth $10 trillion, representing nearly 13 percent of global GDP.
Although UCW is a shared societal responsibility, women and girls do a disproportionate amount UCW in every part of the world, and especially in developing countries. On average, women do three times as much UCW as men, representing nearly four years of additional work over the course of a lifetime.
In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), unequal responsibility for UCW fundamentally shapes economic empowerment for women as early as adolescence by:
Recognition, reduction, and redistribution of UCW could radically accelerate progress toward gender equality. In addition to expanding WEE, such changes could transform men’s relationships with their children by redefining and expanding what it means to be a good father; establish new gender norms that children will observe, learn, and carry forward in their own relationships; and reshape how the private, public, and civil society sectors identify, develop, and retain talent in ways that support UCW responsibilities regardless of gender.