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A care-based economy could be the answer to gender equality

PHOTO: Instagram/ UN Women

BEYOND COVID-19: A feminist plan for sustainability and social justice was officially launched by UN women on September 16, 2021. 

The plan responds to the disproportionate impacts COVID-19 has had on women and girls.

UN Women, a United Nations entity working for gender equality, reported women globally have lost 54 million jobs between 2019-2020, making one in five women victim of pandemic-induced job insecurity.  

In response to this, its Feminist Plan has modelled an economy that is people centred and amplifies access for women.   

UN Women #FeministPlan campaign SOURCE: Youtube/ UN Women

UN Secretary-General, Pramila Patten is confident that the plan is an opportunity to change the course of female inequality. 

“We have a generational opportunity to break the vicious cycle of economic insecurity, environmental destruction and exclusionary politics and shape a better, more gender-equal and sustainable world,” she said. 

The roadmap has stipulated that ‘care’ should be the centre of a just and sustainable economy. 

Paid and unpaid care has increased dramatically during the COVID-19 crisis, and as a result considered to be an essential service. 

The care sector is dominated by women on a global scale, where 70 per cent of women are healthcare workers and, in most regions, upwards of 80 per cent of nurses and social care workers are women. 

In terms of unpaid care, women have done more than 29 per cent of childcare per week than men during the pandemic, based on data collected by the UN from 16 countries.

In response to this, the plan focuses on increasing the economic value of the care sector, by making it a public good. 

The Feminist Plan evokes a call to action directed at world leaders to design a care-led economic recovery.

The vision is backed by three suggestions that outline the necessary conditions for a care-based economy. 

Suggestions for a care-based economy as per the roadmap PHOTO: UN Women

“[The] report provides a roadmap… while recovering the ground that has been lost on gender equality and women’s rights,” Secretary-General Ms Patten said. 

The feature of sustainability laced throughout the plan is an attempt to harness the benefits which going green could have for women.  

A switch to sustainability could create up to 24 million jobs which provide new opportunities for women to access. 

Principal Researcher at the Integrated Policy Research Institute and a Director of Law and Economics in Jamaica, Miriama William’s believes there is no better time to act than now. 

“We are amid an intersecting COVID-19 and climate crisis,” she said. 

“This is a critical point for action, and an effective and gender-just transition to a low-carbon economy is essential.” 

Sustainable pathways will not only amplify employment opportunities but build on the feminist concept of ‘social provisioning,’ which is the act of placing care and human wellbeing as central to economic success. 

To achieve this, eco-friendly measures need to be taken for the protection of goods and services in the long-term. 

The Feminist Plan was curated between June 2019-2020 and has contributions from more than 100 experts in the United Nations, civil society, and research institutes.

Whilst the plan is not legally binding, it provides a set of helpful ideas that respond to gender inequalities both long-standing and exacerbated by COVID-19.  

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Tia Haralabakos

Tia Haralabakos is a Media & Communications student at Monash University specialising in Journalism and human rights. She is interested in the multi-faceted landscape of digital media, particularly addressing challenges to online reporting like diversity and content moderation. Tia’s journalistic interests include human rights and social affairs.

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