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Addressing the unpaid childcare crisis for women and girls: How can we build better after Covid-19?

Organised by IWWAGE as part of the Learning series by Gates Foundation, 15 December 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent socio-economic crises that have unfolded globally have brought with them unprecedented and unintended impacts. The pandemic has had significant ripple effects on women’s employment and livelihoods. Globally, small scale surveys and media reports indicate that there has been a sharp increase in time spent by them on unpaid care work. Potential risks for the disproportionate care work burden borne by women include an increase in the likelihood of women withdrawing from the labour force, often permanently.

Quality and affordable childcare centres can play a crucial role in improving and increasing women’s participation in the labour force. This learning session hopes to bring participants from across academia, think tanks, multilateral institutions and organizations working on the issue of care, to reflect and share insights on the impact that COVID-19 has had on unpaid care work undertaken by women and girls. Speakers will reflect on potential policy solutions; social protection measures and investments needed to support the care economy and advance the agenda of women’s economic empowerment.

This session is part of the learning series started by the Gates Foundation, aimed at fostering learning, exchanging ideas and establishing connections across partners working on evidence, advocacy, policies, and interventions related to COVID-19’s social and economic impacts on women and girls. In this session of the learning series, participants from implementing organizations, academic institutions, think tanks, and multilateral institutions will reflect and share insights on the following themes:

  1. Insights from recent surveys and evidence on the impact COVID-19 has had on unpaid care work undertaken by women and girls globally, specifically in low- and middle-income countries, and how this is aggregated in contexts of limited childcare support and services.
  2. Policies, workplace arrangements, social protection measures, relief packages and investments needed to support the care economy and provide quality, affordable childcare support and services to families, including the most vulnerable and marginalised groups. Examples and lessons from past health emergencies and humanitarian crises on how childcare support and models were adapted to support families.
  3. Mapping a way forward to engage governments, private and public sector, communities and other key stakeholders to recognise and address the burden of unpaid care work

Speakers include, Dipa Sinha, Assistant Professor (Economics), Ambedkar University; Rudaba Zehra Nasir, Global Lead for Employment and Childcare IFC Gender and Economic Inclusion Group; Patricia Kitsao-Wekulo, Associate Research Scientist, African Population and Health Research Center; Sabrina Habib, Co-Founder & Chief Exploration Officer, Kidogo; Amber Parkes, Global Programme Advisor – Women’s Economic Empowerment and Care (WE-Care), Oxfam. The session was moderated by Soumya Kapoor Mehta, Head, IWWAGE at LEAD.

View the recoding here.