Global Care Crisis: ILO Calls for “Urgent Action”

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International Labour Organization (ILO) has called for sweeping changes in policies to prevent a ‘looming’ global care crisis.

The recently published ILO report warned of inadequate policy responses to the rising demand and quantifies the extent of the care burden on women.

“Investment in the care economy needs to be doubled to avert a looming global care crisis, says a new ILO report,” the ILO report reads.

In a report, the organization said around 269 million new jobs could be created if investment in education, health, and social work were doubled by 2030.

ILO report said, “the women are performing more than three-quarters of the time spent in unpaid care work.”

To cope with these challenges ILO recommended, “sweeping changes in policies should address the rising need for care and tackle the huge disparity between women’s and men’s care responsibilities.”

“The global prominence of nuclear families and single-headed households, and the growth of women’s employment in certain countries increase the demand for care workers. If not addressed properly, current deficits in care work and its quality will create a severe and unsustainable global care crisis and further increase gender inequalities in the world of work,” said Laura Addati, lead author of the report.

According to the report, women perform 76.2 percent of total hours of unpaid care work, more than three times as much as men.

ILO quoted Shauna Olney, Chief of the Gender, Equality, and Diversity and ILOAIDS Branch of the ILO as saying: “At this pace, it will take 210 years to close the gender gap in unpaid care work in these countries. The glacial rate of these changes calls into question the effectiveness of past and current policies in addressing the extent and division of unpaid care work over the past two decades.”

The report also showed that most care workers are women, frequently migrants and working in the informal economy under poor conditions and for low pay.

ILO’s Laura Addati said: “A high road to care work means recognizing, reducing and redistributing unpaid care work and achieving decent work for care workers, including domestic and migrant workers. Poor job quality for care workers leads to poor quality care work. Our report calls for sweeping changes in care, macroeconomic, social protection, labor and migration policies.”

Key Findings of the Report:

  • Mothers of children aged under 6 years suffer the highest “employment penalty” with only 47.6 percent of them in employment;
  • unpaid carers also face a “job quality penalty”: Living with a child under 6 implies a loss of close to one hour of paid work per week for women and an increase in paid working time of 18 minutes per week for men;
  • women with care responsibilities are more likely to be self-employed, to work in the informal economy and less likely to contribute to social security;
  • attitudes towards the gender division of paid and unpaid care work are changing but the ‘male breadwinner’ family model remains very much ingrained within societies, along with women’s caring role in the family continuing to be central;
  • in 2016, only 42 percent of countries out of 184 with available data met the minimum standards set out in the ILO Maternity Protection Convention No. 183;
  • in the same year, 39 percent of countries out of 184 with available data did not have any statutory leave provision for fathers (neither paid nor unpaid);
  • globally, gross enrolment rates in early childhood services for children under 3 was only 18.3 percent in 2015 and barely reached 57 percent for children aged 3 to 6;
  • long-term care services are close to non-existent in most African, Latin American and Asian countries.

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