PSI and allies reaffirm their commitment to call for international mobilization to raise awareness and influence the political decisions to shift the discourse on care by reclaiming the role of the state as a key actor and provider in transforming the social organisation of care and strengthening public investment to guarantee the right to care and dignified care as a human right.
Over 100 participants attended the joint parallel event to the Generation Equality Forum in Paris on 2 July organised by PSI, ActionAid, GATJ, TJN-Africa, GI-ESCR, CESR, DAWN, WomanKind and moderated by Neelanjana Mukhia from ActionAid.
The convening civil society organizations shared their feminist visions on how public services can tackle the root causes of gender inequality: from efforts to reframe the economy embedding gender equality and human rights principles, advocating for tax justice, debunking the myths behind the commercialization of public services, strengthening workers’ rights in public services, pushing for the building of public care systems, and advancing human rights-based and bottom-up approaches to public services.
Without a different role of the state, and commitment from society, in sharing and redistributing care work, there will be little chance of rebuilding a different, better society
In her opening comments, PSI General Secretary, Rosa Pavanelli welcomed this growing alliance and global movement joining forces around the five common goals (the “5Rs”) as laid out in the Manifesto for Rebuilding the Social Organisation of Care and signed by more than 150 organisations and 270 individuals. She noted how the pandemic had shown the inadequacy of our public care services and how the basic principles outlined in the Manifesto were more relevant than ever, as demonstrated by the creation of a similar Care Manifesto by the Economic Justice and Rights Action Coalition presented in the context of the countdown activities for the GEF-Paris.
Without a different role of the state, and commitment from society, in sharing and redistributing care work, there will be little chance of rebuilding a different, better society said Pavanelli, space for civil society has been dramatically reduced in the global arena making it all too easy to shut down women and workers voices. Pavanelli concluded with a call to join forces for care to be recognised, not just as an economic factor, but as a human right that has to be provided publicly.
The current social organisation of care
Corina Rodriguez Enriquez, from Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era – DAWN, presented the highlights of a study she is currently carrying out in collaboration with PSI. Focusing on eight countries from the Global North and the Global South (Australia, India, Canada, Argentina, South Africa, Kenya, Poland and Austria), the study analyses the current situation, including good practises and will offer some concrete proposals on alternatives for rebuilding the social organisation of care.
We must understand care as a human right to reclaim it as a responsibility of the state
Corina Rodriguez Enriquez, from Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era – DAWN, presents the highlights of new PSI study. Focusing on eight countries from the Global North and the Global South (Australia, India, Canada, Argentina, South Africa, Kenya, Poland and Austria), the study analyses the current situation, including good practises and will offer some concrete proposals on alternatives for rebuilding the social organisation of care. More here: https://publicservices.international/resources/news/global-mobilisation-for-gender-transformative-public-care-services?lang=en&id=12051
The Current Social Organisation of Care
In her intervention, Kate Donald from the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) explains why care is a human rights issue and how its framing is key to demands for public provisioning of care.
You can't realise someone's human rights by violating someone else's
"It is increasingly clear that the neoliberal economic system is fundamentally incompatible with the right to care", states Kate. While recognising the need for balance, she passionately refuses the “zero-sum worldview” of opposing carer rights to the rights of the people being cared for: You can't realise someone's human rights by violating someone else's!
Alejandra Lozano, from The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) provides some concrete examples on the role public services play in transforming unequal gender power relations.
Strong quality universal public services are not a charitable option but a fundamental component of human dignity
A recent brief by the GI-ESCR puts forward five key elements for a gender-transformative approach to the management, delivery, funding, and ownership of public services. Public services can enable us to tackle not only the consequences, but also the systemic and underlying factors, the uneven power imbalances underpinning gender inequality, she explains.
“Strong quality universal public services are not a charitable option but a fundamental component of human dignity” says Lozano,“they are what binds us together and are crucial in responding to the challenges we face today in building fairer more inclusive, socially just societies”.
Charity Mandishona from the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA), a partner organisation of WomanKind, shares her experiences organising and fighting for social protection for women in informal work. Public services mean that all women are protected and can access their rights no matter what sector they work in.
Equality is now and it’s time to act. We cannot wait for someone else to do it for us!"
“Women working in the informal sector in Zimbabwe rarely access any social protection or services to care for themselves, they don’t get maternity paid leave like those working in the formal economy- says Charity Madisha "Equality is now and it’s time to act. We cannot wait for someone else to do it for us!"
Asked why care workers’ rights are central to public service provision as well as to the transformation of unequal gender power relations. Gloria Mills, from UNISON (UK) and PSI World Women Committee Vice Chair states that “We cannot talk about rights without talking about the enforcement of those rights. Women are shut out of decision-making. We must fix the power deficit!”
We cannot talk about rights without talking about the enforcement of those rights
While women dominate the public services workforce, decisions on whether to remain in-house, privatise or commercialise services are predominantly taken by men. “At the present time, we see that care is organized for the benefit of big corporations and those seeking profits, by exploiting people for profit, we need a better equitable outcome, redistribution of resources that benefit women. But we also need to ensure that states do what is required in terms of implementing gender budgeting and fiscal measures that reward women's paid and unpaid work”.
Grazielle David, from the Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GATJ) spoke about feminist taxation policies and how these can finance the social organisation of care. The lack of financial resources is often an excuse for the state's failures to realize women's rights. The current social organization of care is fundamentally unbalanced, unequal, and unsustainable. It places the burden of care and domestic work on women, and even more so with the pandemic. “Fiscal justice can redistribute the resources in a way to reduce gender, race, economic and other inequalities and to ensure the progressive realization of human rights” explains Grazielle.
Chenai Mukumba, from the Tax Justice Network (TJN- Africa) followed with a presentation on how tax evasion and tax havens affect public care employment and workers’ rights. While we are often told there is no money for public sector workers, including care workers, Chenai tells us where the money is and how it can pay for care workers. The most sustainable way of funding key social sectors is through domestic resource mobilization, particularly public key employment explains Chenai, when the resources are provided by the private sector, by large multinationals that are profit-shifting or sending their resources to tax havens or through overseas development assistance, often those resources come with conditionality that may or may not be in the best interest of the countries that are receiving that funding, thereby curbing many African countries’ ability to raise the resources they need.
countries are losing is the equivalent of 30 million nurses’ annual salaries every single year
“Countries are losing a total of almost of over $400 billion dollars every single year to international corporate tax abuse and private tax evasion” says Chenai “. Altogether, the amount of money that countries are losing is the equivalent of 30 million nurses’ annual salaries every single year, so that's just to put it into context. Essentially, it is the equivalent of one nurse’s annual salary being lost every single second”.
The impact of those tax losses is far greater on low-income countries than on high-income countries and can be equal to, or over half, of their public health budgets.
The event concluded with a reaffirmed commitment to mobilise and a call to action, to all civil society organizations involved in the economic justice and rights action coalition, to join forces for international mobilization and international transformation in terms of women's position in society, in public services but moreover in decision-making; to push and reclaim the role of the state as a key actor and provider in transforming the social organisation of care and strengthening public investment to guarantee the right to care and dignified care as a human right.