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

Author: Valeria Esquivel
Regions: Latin America
Country: Costa Rica, Uruguay
Year: 2017

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 care provision is a powerful driver of gender and income inequalities. Women’s movements have positioned care policies high on their own agendas and, with varying degrees, States have progressed in the implementation of care policies, supported by a strong gender-equality agenda which is framed within a rights-based approach to social protection. This article presents the Uruguayan and Costa Rican “care systems” as examples of Latin America’s rights-based approach to care policies. It succinctly explains their political and institutional evolution, and presents the main features of their legal frameworks. It pays particular attention to the actors that have mobilized to support and, eventually, shape them. It also identifies the dimensions that are singled out by other countries in the process of replicating and adapting these examples to build their own “care systems” following a rights-based approach to care policies. The article closes with a focus on implementation challenges.


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Social Protection and Human Rights