Changing the course and discourse on inequality and the global care crisis

Throughout the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided irrefutable evidence to the increasing inequalities and worsening conditions disproportionately affecting women. This 8th March, on International Women's Day, the struggle for women's equality in all its diversity is more valid than ever.

The pandemic has not only brought to light people’s vulnerability when faced with illness, but also the political and economic upheaval that accompanies it.

The way out is to [..] change the logic of care towards a public good through the recognition and guarantee of the human right to care

The world is experiencing a profound crisis, and at the heart of it are care and women. This crisis has exacerbated violence against women, against their bodies, against their lives. A crisis that must be stopped now!

Although the crisis is global, nuances are evident in the Global North versus the Global South. On the one hand, the dismantling of the welfare state, the advance of the privatisation of public services, including care services. On the other, the predominance of an ethic of care that prioritises the family and within it, women as "natural" actors, undermining the role of the state and giving "devalued" women's work (paid or unpaid) the greatest weight within the social organisation of care.

"The way out is to change the course and discourse of gender inequality and violence, as well as to change the logic of care towards a public good through the recognition and guarantee of the human right to care. Care is thus removed from the economic and market sphere and placed at the centre of politics, of human rights. PSI is raising this issue in the global governance debate and working towards a global movement in support," says Rosa Pavanelli, PSI general secretary.

"We have built a rationale around “5Rs” that summarise PSI's work towards a worldwide movement to rebuild the social organisation of care," explains Irene Khumalo, from the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union, Eswatini, and chair of PSI's Global Women's Committee.

The 5Rs for rebuilding the social organisation of care are:

  • Recognise the social and economic value of care work (paid and unpaid) and the human right to care.

  • Reward and remunerate with equal pay for work of equal value, pensions, working conditions and social protection.

  • Reduce the burden of unpaid care work on women.

  • Redistribute care work among all family members and workers, changing the sexual division of labour.

  • Reclaim the primary duty and responsibility of the state to provide public care services and develop care systems that transform gender relations.