The COVID-19 crisis and ensuing confinement has brought to the fore a key constraint to women’s economic empowerment: the unequal, gendered distribution of unpaid care work. Even before the pandemic, women were performing more than three-quarters of all unpaid care work – equating to roughly 12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work done by women every single day.
Whilst there is increasing recognition of unpaid care work and its impact on women’s economic empowerment (WEE), there remains little practical guidance on how to foster its reduction and redistribution among society. One step to achieving this is through the provision of childcare services, which shift care responsibilities away from mothers and other unpaid carers to paid caregivers. In turn, this can contribute to the economic empowerment of women through improved access to labour market opportunities and greater agency over manageable workloads.
It’s for this reason that the ILO Lab decided to research programmes taking a market systems approach to developing childcare services, exploring the different ways that these programmes have addressed the issue as well as the key lessons learned for implementation.