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Panel discussion titled, “Caring for the Caregivers: Strengthening Voices of Care in the Global South” at the NGO Committee on the Status of Women (NGO CSW/NY)

IWWAGE along with its partner ORF conducted a panel discussion titled, “Caring for the Caregivers: Strengthening Voices of Care in the Global South” at the NGO CSW68 event on March 15th.

Shamika Ravi, Member, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) set the stage the context to the insight conversation by sharing her thoughts and experiences, she mentioned that care has been set as a policy priority and that for a long time now, it’s women that are coming under extraordinary pressure, due to the disproportionate burden of care being placed on their shoulders, especially as they explore work opportunities outside the household. There is a need to prioritize the evolution and healthy development of care economy in India to support the primary caregivers in our society, the majority of whom happen to be women. Referring to a white paper released by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, she recommended reading it as it describes several components of the care economy that have emerged over the years and that are fundamental to the growth of the sector, and these include what we emphasize is different kinds of care, infrastructure, belief, policies, maternal and paternal, skill, training job creation and regulatory requirements for promoting these various segments of the market. She also shed light on the fact that through the ministry there has been serious effort made in the direction of care economy and it in some ways is a commitment and serves as a promise to make care a fundamental part of the economy.



Taking the discussion forward, Sona Mitra, Director- Research and Policy, IWWAGE shed light that shed light on the advocacy efforts aimed at centering care in policy discussions and stressed the importance of focusing on financing for care, exploring questions regarding investment strategies and other areas for intervention. She also wants that the focus of the discussion should also be on financing for care, and dwell upon questions such as how it is important to invest in care and what we really want to look at by understanding investments in care? What are the tools of investments, areas, or the various components of care?

The moderator, Sunaina Kumar, Senior Fellow, Observer Research Foundation took forward points made by Shamika Ravi by shedding light on the increase of demand of care due to globally shifting demographic trends, increasing young and aging population, along with more nuclear families. She underscored the increasing demand for care due to shifting demographic trends and emphasized its intrinsic and instrumental value to society and economies worldwide. She also mentioned how care has both instrumental as well as intrinsic value to society, it is at the heart of societies and families, and the future of our economies increasingly.



Speaking of the Brazilian experience, Luciana S., President, I-AER Institute of Applied Economic Research discussed the need for advocacy around care in the country and the importance of bringing in the care workers as stakeholders in the process of policy making. She focused on the need for addressing lingering gender norms and advocating for policy innovation and international cooperation to address financing challenges. She also emphasised that is a need for policy innovation that can be brought from one’s own experience as well as shared knowledge between the global South. She also talked about how the challenges are bigger and the opportunities are smaller in terms of financing and that’s where the role of international cooperation and multilateralism is important. It was also heartening to hear that Brazil is thinking of bringing in the care workers as stakeholders in the process of policy making.



Gloria Lang’at, Research Scientist, African Population and Health Research Center emphasized the universal importance of care while highlighting its under-resourced nature, particularly in terms of investment and caregiver remuneration. She also spoke of the need for highlighting the role of the community in the care economy as well as greater inclusion of geriatric care and care for the disabled in these discussions. She also brought out an important point on the care for elderly people as well as the disabled and how it is often overlooked. She also expressed her concern over the lack of inclusion of the role of community in discussions around the care economy.

Brett Weisel, Global Policy and Advocacy Lead, Early Childhood Development Action Network (ECDAN) stressed on the interconnectedness of outcomes for women and children, advocating for purposeful linkage of agendas to form powerful political coalitions. He also emphasized the importance of gender-transformative and child-centered systems and grassroots advocacy to support caregivers effectively. He also pointed that there is a need to have systems that are both gender-transformative and child-cantered at the same time, should support the workforce.

For those interested, a recording of the session is available for viewing: