Highlighting the Invisibility of Unpaid Care

This is a three year project, part of the Gender, Power and Sexuality Programme, funded by Sida. We are exploring why, despite the substantial body of research on the issue, unpaid care work is merited little attention in development policy and programming. We are taking an action learning approach to engaging policy actors on unpaid care, tracking the effects, successes and failures of our policy influencing activities.

We are seeking out and exploiting opportunities to introduce the significance of unpaid care into global development organisations' policy statements and programme documentation (e.g. the DAC Guidance on Women's Economic Empowerment, the World Bank's MDG report, bilateral agency evaluation tools).

In the first year of the programme we invested in:

  • collaborative planning work, including stakeholder mapping and introductory meetings with policymakers and practitioners in two large Asian countries – Bangladesh and Indonesia
  • an assessment of how women's care work is affected by food and economic crisis and implications for public policy
  • work planning for engagement with global civil society to take lessons and advocacy to strategic international arenas, including feasibility assessments and networking

We have built relations with international (UN Women, Action Aid International, Oxfam GB) and national (Centre for Gender and Social Transformation at BRAC University, Bangladesh and SMERU, Indonesia) partners.

With our international partner, Action Aid, we hosted a two day workshop in London in September 2012 involving staff from international civil society organisations and movements to brainstorm and discuss an influencing strategy to put care on the global policy agenda. This workshop allowed us to:

  1. gain a greater understanding of what organisations are already doing in terms of research, advocacy and programming on unpaid care work
  2. identify opportunities to influence the global policy agenda to recognise and consider care in designing economic and social policies
  3. agree on a set of next steps to take individually and collectively to put care on the global policy agenda

In the remaining two years of the project, we plan to develop and use innovative communications strategies to draw attention to the gaps left in development policy by the neglect of care, generate further evidence of the impacts of taking care into account in policy and programme design, and consolidate networks of policymakers, practitioners and researchers working on or around issues of unpaid care.

Find out more about the research from this project and related work on Interactions.

Key contacts

Photo of Deepta Chopra, IDS Governance and Gender / Sexuality Research Fellow

T: +44 (0)1273 915808

E: d.chopra@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Naomi Hossain, IDS Research Fellow

T: +44 (0)1273 915687

E: n.hossain@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Rosalind Eyben

E: r.j.eyben@sussex.ac.uk

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Partner organisations