Care responsibilities and unpaid care work

From a human rights perspective, social protection programmes should recognize the role of women as caregivers and the burden that this role can create. For example, when women are made responsible for complying with conditions attached to participation in a conditional cash transfer (CCT) programme (for example, taking children to medical check-ups or ensuring they go to school) or when they are required to travel (sometimes long distances) to collect the benefits or to participate in various stages of the programme, their domestic unpaid workload increases. If this is not expressly addressed in the programme design, the increased burden on women may further undermine their own welfare disincentivizing them from participating in the programme.

Sometimes, programmes that have not been designed with women’s care responsibilities in mind can even have a detrimental impact on girls’ schooling. For example, when a programme increases the time the mother spends away from home, girls are then required to assume their motherss responsibilities such as cooking or collecting water.

Photo credit: “Indian Family Waiting on the Bus” by Trey Ratcliff (CCBY 2.0 via Flickr).

Expert Commentaries

Gender and Social Protection: What does WDR 2019 have to offer?

The World Bank’s World Development Reports (WDRs), with some notable exceptions, are not known for their gender analysis. Even then, the 2019 edition, The Changing Nature of Work, stands out as remarkably gender blind. For starters, it almost completely ignores one of the most invisible and deeply gendered features of work: the fact that women […]

Enabling Aspirations, Realizing Rights: Social Protection for Adolescent Girls

Adolescent girls’ rights and their power to drive social change and achieve inclusive are crucial to sustainable human development. This recognition comes at a time of increased global interest in understanding and offering solutions to the challenges girls face as they enter the second decade of their lives. Aspirations and struggles frequently associated with being […]

Transformative Approaches to Care Responsibilities: Overcoming Obstacles to the Meaningful Participation of Women

The World Bank (WB) has called economic participation—that is, participation in the labour force—smart economics. Not all forms of participation in public life are smart economics according to the WB, though. The Bank’s World Development Report (WDR) 2012 values women’s voice in society and their political participation for themselves—a welcome (albeit limited) departure from their […]


Family and child benefits

Child and family benefits, in cash and in kind, play a particularly important role in realizing children’s rights and addressing their needs, particularly for the most vulnerable members of society. Evidence from many parts of the world demonstrates that social protection benefits have led to a marked improvement in children’s nutritional status. Cash transfer programmes […]

Legal Instruments

Care Act 2014

An Act to make provision to reform the law relating to care and support for adults and the law relating to support for carers; to make provision about safeguarding adults from abuse or neglect; to make provision about care standards; to establish and make provision about Health Education England; to establish and make provision about […]

Decreto N° 93, Ley de Maternidad y Paternidad responsable

Esta ley es especial y tiene por objeto establecer los mecanismos y el procedimiento para garantizar que toda niña y todo niño sean reconocidos legalmente por parte de sus padres y, para que cuando sea necesario, se determine con certeza jurídica la maternidad o paternidad, permitiendo con ello una maternidad y paternidad responsable.  

Constitución de la República del Ecuador.

En el Artículo 6, inciso 1 y 5 se establece que se promoverá la maternidad y paternidad responsable y la corresponsabilidad materna y paterna en el cuidado de los hijos. Por otra parte, en el artículo 333 se reconoce como labor productiva el trabajo no remunerado de autosustento y cuidado humano que se realiza en […]

Ley Orgánica de Discapacidades

Establece la protección y reconocimiento de los cuidadores y cuidadoras de personas con alguna discapacidad (art. 5; 16). Los cuidadores pueden gozar de beneficios de inclusión laboral como “sustitutos” de la persona discapacitada (art. 48). Se amplía el permiso de maternidad por 3 meses adicionales, en el caso del nacimiento de niñas o niños con […]

Ley Orgánica para la Justicia Laboral y Reconocimiento del Trabajo en el Hogar, que reforma el Código del Trabajo, la Ley Orgánica del Servicio Público y la Ley de Seguridad Social

Reconoce el trabajo no remunerado en los hogares: incorpora a las amas de casa al sistema de seguridad social, garantiza a las mujeres su derecho a jubilación, viudez, indemnización por discapacidad. Contempla también cambios al tipo de contratación, bonificaciones, estabilidad laboral, utilidades, da garantías en caso de despido de mujeres embarazadas y dirigentes sindicales, entre […]

Ley 8.726

Reforma del capítulo octavo del título segundo del Código del Trabajo, Ley 2. Ley del trabajo doméstico remunerado. Define a las trabajadoras domésticas como aquellas que brindan asistencia y bienestar a una familia o persona, en forma remunerada, y que se dedican a las labores de limpieza, cocina, lavado, planchado y demás labores propias de […]

Ley n° 9.220

De acuerdo al artículo 1, se crea la Red Nacional de Cuido y Desarrollo Infantil (Redcudi), con la finalidad de establecer un sistema de cuido y desarrollo infantil de acceso público, universal y de financiamiento solidario que articule las diferentes modalidades de prestación pública y privada de servicios en materia de cuido y desarrollo infantil, […]

Ley 1.413

La ley tiene por objeto incluir la economía del cuidado conformada por el trabajo de hogar no remunerado en el Sistema de Cuentas Nacionales, con el objeto de medir la contribución de la mujer al desarrollo económico y social del país (Art.1), y como herramienta fundamental para la definición e implementación de políticas públicas

Ley 20.535

Extiende el permiso a los padres contemplado en el artículo 199 bis, la persona que tenga a su cuidado personal, o sea cuidador de un menor con discapacidad debidamente inscrito en el Registro Nacional de la Discapacidad, o menor de 6 años, con el diagnóstico del médico tratante. También se extiende el permiso en caso […]

Decreto Supremo N° 1455

Se otorga el beneficio de “licencia especial” a todas las madres, padres, tutores y responsables que trabajen en el sector público y privado que tengan hijos menores de doce (12) años que requieran atención personal con motivo de un accidente grave o enfermedad grave.


COVID-19 Recovering Rights: Topic Seven | Income Support to Protect Rights

Main Takeaways Urgent measures are necessary to provide sufficient income to millions of people who cannot work due to pandemicrelated restrictions, so that they can still meet their basic needs. Many of these workers lack social and labor protections.  Basic income schemes vary in type, design and implementation. Those that are universal, durable and unconditional […]

Older Women’s Economic Empowerment: A review of the literature

Women’s economic empowerment has gained increasing attention within the global development agenda in recent years, bolstered by the adoption of a range of relevant targets within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. Yet the specific experiences of older women often remain underexplored and unrecognised, leaving them invisible to policy-makers. This research aims to redress […]

Between Work and Care: Older women’s economic empowerment

Women’s economic empowerment has gained increasing attention within the global development agenda in recent years, bolstered by the adoption of a range of relevant targets within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. Yet the specific experiences of older women often remain underexplored and unrecognised, leaving them invisible to policy-makers. This research aims to redress […]

Effects of foreign debt and other related financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights (A/73/179)

In the present report, the Independent Expert discusses the impact of economic reforms, in particular austerity and fiscal consolidation measures, on women’s human rights. He argues that the prevailing current economic system is based on various forms of gender discrimination. The value of unpaid work and its contribution to the economy is, for the most […]

Care Work and Care Jobs for the Future of Decent Work

The report analyses the ways in which unpaid care work is recognized and organized, the extent and quality of care jobs and their impact on the well-being of individuals and society. A key focus of this report is the persistent gender inequalities in households and the labour market, which are inextricably linked with care work. […]

The Gendered Effects of Air Pollution on Labour Supply

Air pollution affects workers’ ability to work by damaging their own health, but also by damaging the health of their dependents. This paper draws on 20 years of air pollution and employment data from Santiago, Chile, a highly polluted metropolis, particularly in fall and winter months. The paper finds that although air pollution does not […]

Unpaid Care – Why and How to Invest: Policy briefing for national governments

Investments which support households to better meet their unpaid care responsibilities – such as childcare, food preparation and laundry – can yield substantial returns in terms of macro-economic growth, job creation and other key government priorities. This briefing looks at selected evidence and examples and argues that governments should: include commitments to support households’ unpaid […]

The Political and Social Economy of Care in a Development Context: Conceptual Issues, Research Questions and Policy Options

Care (whether paid or unpaid) is crucial to human well-being and to the pattern of economic development. Some analysts emphasize the significance of care for economic dynamism and growth. Others see care in much larger terms, as part of the fabric of society and integral to social development. Citizenship rights, the latter argue, have omitted […]

Women’s economic empowerment programmes: towards a ‘double boon’ instead of drudgery and depletion

Recent research carried out in four countries (India, Nepal, Tanzania and Rwanda) under the framework of the Growth and Equal Opportunities for Women (GrOW) programme has highlighted the drudgery of both paid work and unpaid care work faced by women in poor families, leading to the depletion of their bodies and minds, and those of […]

The Rights-Based Approach to Care Policies: Latin American experience

Care policies are high on the public policy agenda in Latin America. This is partly explained by the region’s structural conditions, typical of middle-income countries, such as increasing life expectancy and women’s relatively high participation in the labour market, but also by the politicization of care, derived from the recognition that the unequal distribution of […]


ECLAC’s New Care Law Database

ECLAC’s Gender Affairs Division recently compiled a database of all of the existing care laws in the constitutional and other domestic legislation in Latin American and Caribbean countries. The database contains information on more than 200 legislative bodies. These laws concern various care issues such as parental leave, extra-home care services, anti-discrimination in hiring, access […]

Social Protection and Human Rights