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Evidence Review of the Global Childcare Crisis and the road for post COVID-19 recovery and resilience

March, 2021

The devastating impact that COVID-19 has had on women’s livelihoods cannot be overstated. Globally, women tend to work in low-paying jobs and in the informal sector—precarious employment that has been upended by lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions. Adding another layer to this burden, women’s unpaid care work is soaring. Childcare must be addressed within our COVID-19 recovery plans both to advance gender equality and because it makes fiscal sense. In addition to reducing the undue burden of care, affordable and quality childcare frees mothers up to participate in the labour force and creates decent jobs for women in the childcare sector. Currently, gender gaps in labour force participation in OECD countries cost the economy about 15 percent of GDP. Yet, so far, we have not seen the mobilisation of public, private, and foreign aid funding that is urgently needed to tackle this crisis. The inequalities women face are not new. But the pandemic has exacerbated and laid them bare.

Policymakers must seize the opportunity to rectify this crisis, both as part and parcel of an inclusive COVID-19 response and for the benefit of future generations. This paper has recommended a range of policy solutions and measures available to tackle the COVID-19 exacerbated childcare crisis and pave the road for post-COVID-19 recovery and resilience. Together, these recommendations are aimed at promoting a comprehensive childcare agenda and at recognising the provision of quality childcare as a societal responsibility—as opposed to women’s responsibility alone. We acknowledge that there will ultimately be trade-offs that countries will need to make and our goal has been to present a broad range of available evidence, examples, and promising practices to help countries decide how best to allocate their finite resources and chart a path forward.


Resource Type Report

Partner Organisation International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women (GrOW) East Africa initiative, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, FemDev

Topics Childcare, unpaid care work, COVID-19

Authors Kate Grantham, Leva Rouhani, Neelanjana Gupta, Martha Melesse, Diva Dhar, Soumya Kapoor Mehta, Kanika Jha Kingra