The care society: The intersection of Poverty Eradication and Economic Justice for all Women and Girls

Christina McAnea, General Secretary of UNISON, UK, speaks on behalf of PSI at the UNCSW68 side event organised by the governments of Chile, Mexico and Uruguay, ILO, UNWomen, UNRISD and UNOHCHR: The care society: The intersection of Poverty Eradication and Economic Justice for all Women and Girls


Globally, women provide more than three-quarters of unpaid care work, making up two-thirds of the paid care workforce. The goods and services produced through unpaid care work are critical in sustaining the labour force daily and from one generation to the next. Estimates of the data from 53 countries show that unpaid care work would amount to 9 percent of global GDP, representing a total of US$ 11 trillion of purchasing power parity.[1] Despite well-documented evidence proving that care work sustains economies and societies, it is commonly undervalued, unrecognized at the societal level, and unaccounted for in policy making. More needs to be done to recognize and quantify the fundamental role of care work reproducing daily, generational and productive life[2] and its contribution to economic growth and well-being the wellbeing of society and all its members. 

According to the United Nations Secretary-General Report on "Accelerating the Achievement of gender equality and the Empowerment of All Women and Girls by Addressing Poverty and Strengthening Institutions and Financing with a gender perspective,"      women ages 25 to 34 are 1.2 times more likely to live in extreme poverty than men, owing to their predominant role in providing care[3]. The report also flags that this gender gap accumulates and compounds through the life course:  in 2023, 8 percent of women ages 55 to 59 were living in extreme poverty, compared to 6.9 percent of men. The higher likelihood of career interruptions, part-time employment, lower earnings, concentration in the informal sector, and more time spent on unpaid care work accrue over time, often resulting in older women having fewer assets, savings and social protection benefits.[4] Furthermore, women from low-income families who undertake paid and unpaid care work are more likely to experience emotional and physical depletion, working long days and suffering injuries with no time for rest.

 In this regard, in our global pursuit to address critical challenges, the goal of achieving gender equality and empowering women, adolescents, and girls in all their diversity lies at the core. A growing number of countries, both from the Global South and North, have embraced the path of a Feminist Foreign Policy or policies promoting gender equality. These policies serve as a vital link between national priorities and international efforts, with the conviction that greater gender equality contributes to prosperity, stability, and security.[5] 

This side event aims to advocate for care systems as transformative public policies. This approach allows the strengthening of social protection systems through a gender perspective, generating a catalytic effect in reducing poverty rates by addressing the lack of decent work. The discussion will focus on the disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work that compounds the inequalities that women have historically faced. From this perspective, the event seeks to foster a care society that moves away from a family-based organization of care work towards a social co-responsibility for care, with active involvement from both the State and communities, grounded in an intersectional gender perspective and guided by human rights principles. 


  1. Identify policies and good practices that contribute to recognizing care as a social good, a right and a work essential to economic growth and social well-being, and foster its social redistribution between individuals, families, communities and the State. 

  2. Discuss measures to overcome the sexual division of labor and move towards a fair social organization of care, to reduce the feminization of poverty and promote women's economic autonomy through a social development model that fosters gender equality in the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. 

  3. Identify good practices to promote the care agenda through foreign policies, including Feminist Foreign Policies, as well as the link between the national priorities and international policy-making to promote care and support policies.  


Moderator: Ms. Lara Blanco, Deputy Director of the Sustainable Development Unit within the Executive Office of the Secretary-General 

Opening Remarks:

  • H.E. Ambassador Carla Serazzi, Ambassador, Director of the División of Multilateral Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile

Panel 1: Ministerial Segment on the importance of care and support systems for Poverty Eradication and Economic Justice for all Women and Girls

  • Her Excellency, Ms. Antonia Orellana Guarello, Minister of Women and Gender Equity of Chile

  • Her Excellency, Ms. Nadine Gassman, President of the National Institute of Women of Mexico.

  • Her Excellency, Ms. Alejandra Costa, Deputy Director General for Political Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay 

Panel 2: Interactive Panel on intersectoral policy-making on care and support systems

  • Mrs. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director at UN Women

  • Mr. Navid Hanif, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs

  • Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, Special Representative to the UN and Director of the ILO Office for the United Nations

  • Rio Hada, Chief of the Equality, Development and Rule of Law Section of OHCHR-New York Office

  • Mr. Francisco Cos, Senior Research Coordinator, Gender Justice and Development, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development

  • Ms. Christina McAnea, General Secretary of UNISON, Representative of Public Services International 

Panel 3. Closing Segment: Lessons Learned and the Way Forward to Promote a Care Society

  • Ana Peláez Narváez, Chair, United Nations CEDAW Committee

[1] ILO (2018) Care Work and Care Jobs for the Future of Decent Work.

[2] General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (GS/OAS). Inter-American Model Law on Care (2022).

[3] United Nations (2024) “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective. Report the Secretary-General to the 68th session of the Commission of the Status of Women, pp.18

[4] Ibid.

[5] Council of Foreign Relations. Understanding Gender Equality in Foreign Policy. Women and Foreign Policy Program. Discussion paper June 2020.