Susana Malcorra, president of GWL Voices, and María Fernanda Espinosa, Executive Director of GWL Voices, took part in the XV Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, with the side event
“A multilateral approach to the care economy” with Women in Global Health and Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres, Mexico.
The #XVConferenciaMujerALC is organized by organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in coordination with the UN Women and took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
During the event held at the Sheraton Hotel, María Fernanda Espinosa and Susana Malcorra presided a panel together with Maria Noel Baeza, Regional Director of UN Women, Ximena Mariscal, Coordinator of International Affairs of INMUJERES Mexico, Laura Gil, Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs from Colombia, Gabriela Borin, Leader of Women in Global Health in Brazil and Claudia Mojica, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Argentina, to discuss how multilateralism can create fairer conditions for the care economy.
“At @GWLVoices we work to guarantee that women’s rights and gender equality are transversal to the current United Nations reform process. The economy of the future needs us women sitting at the tables where decisions are made” said Susana Malcorra.
“A more inclusive multilateral system, with more women sitting in decision-making places, will lead to better global agreements, and consequently better public policies for care workers around the world. That is one of our goals at @GWLVoices ” remarked Maria Fernanda Espinosa.
GWL Voices for Change and Inclusion is an international association of more than 60 leading women from around the world who have worked in governments and multilateral organizations promoting humanitarian aid, the defense of human rights, sustainable development and the resolution of some of the most complex conflicts in the world.
The association aims to achieve full gender equality and the empowerment of women in all areas of society, and promote the feminist agenda in the multilateral arena.
According to an ECLAC report, investing in care policies can help reduce educational inequalities, increase job skills, wages and productivity, and improve pension systems. But for all these positive consequences to be fulfilled, the care economy must be transformed. Many of the care jobs today are not considered as such, and when they are, it is usually in precarious conditions. Also, they fall mostly on women, who spend three times as much time daily as men on unpaid care and domestic work. About 80% of the people who do this type of work for pay are women.
A multilateral approach to the care economy
The importance of the Care Economy
The care economy is for many, the economy of the future. Not only because it generates close to 6.5 billion dollars every year, but also because it is perhaps the only sector in our economies that depends exclusively on humans and does not rely on the digital and technological revolution. It is not about producing commodities but about providing care to other humans for their wellbeing. The demand is steadily growing as the need for healthcare, childcare, care for the elderly and persons with disabilities, is increasing in all regions. Besides its ethical value regarding the responsibility of societies to protect the most vulnerable, it is, by excellence, a job creation sector and a great contributor to social cohesion. However, care work across the world remains undervalued, and often unrecognized. Low wages, slim benefits and social protection and even exposure to physical, mental and even sexual harassment have been a common denominator.
Furthermore, care work is highly feminized, since close to 80% of care workers are women. According to ILO, women in the health and care sector earn 24% less than men, which is the largest gender pay gap than in any other economic sectors. In addition to the unpaid, unregistered care work and, as mentioned, precarious working conditions.
There are currently many ongoing initiatives pertaining at a structural, normative, policy and financial transformation of the provision of care services and the conditions of care work, including the Global Alliance for Care Work promoted by the Government of Mexico and UN Women and the Gender Equal Health and Care Workforce Initiative lead by the Government of France, WHO and Women Global Health.
GWL Voices has been working in ensuring that women’s rights and gender equality are transversal to the current UN reform process and the implementation of its roadmap: the Our Common Agenda Report. GWL Voices is engaged in the review of the existing UN gender arquitecture; the design of a retooled global health governance through the negotiation of a new Treaty on Pandemic Preparedness and Response, and, the review of the International Health Regulations as it strongly advocates for a feminist multilateral system.
The main question that the panel addressed is what are the global governance arrangements and policy guidance needed to ensure that a gender and women rights sensitive agenda is at the center at the much needed structural and policy transformations in the multilateral system and the United Nations at large. Public and private investment in the care economy is critical to building the necessary social infrastructure for more equal, humane and peaceful societies.
The outcomes of the panel will be a contribution to the current discussion on UN reform and the preparation of the sequence of Global Summits starting in 2023 with the SDG Summit and the Summit of the Future in 2024.