International Day for Care: invest in care!

On the International Day for Care, 29 October, ITUC calls on governments to invest in care to build resilient and just societies and economies that are rooted in equality.

This 29 October marks the UN’s first official International Day for Care and Support, which recognises the legacy of the first International Day for Care founded four years ago by trade unions to accelerate public investment in to the care economy.

Good care systems are essential as populations grow, societies age and global crises, including the climate emergency, create greater need across populations.

However, decades of austerity, under funding, deregulation and privatisation have weakened systems of care, including public health and early childhood education services.

The global care workforce, of which two-thirds are women, has faced the impact of these policies, trapping millions in jobs where they are overworked, under paid and stuck in precarious work.

Furthermore, the unfair distribution of unpaid care work, of which 76 per cent is done by women, perpetuates the gender gap in labour force participation of 27 per cent and the gender pay gap that remains frozen at 20 per cent.

The solutions

In the report, Care at Work, the ILO, estimates that a global investment in universal childcare and long-term care would create 280m jobs by 2030 and another 19m by 2035. This would boost the employment rate of women by 78 per cent, and 84 per cent of these jobs would be formal.

The ILO’s Global Care Policy Portal provides tools to show governments, employers and trade unions what investments are required to close care policy gaps and showcases the multiple benefits of backing the care economy.

The UN Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution on the "Centrality of care and support from a human rights perspective" that recognises the rights of paid and unpaid caregivers and the recipients of care. It demands increased investment in care and support policies, and measures to enable the meaningful participation of women, people with disabilities, older people and children in decision making around care, including social dialogue.

On 29 October, ITUC calls on governments for a gender-transformative New Social Contract, as enshrined in the ITUC 5th Congress statement and the outcome document of the 4th World Women’s Conference. This includes:

  • Increased public investment in the care sector, creating million of new decent jobs, granting women economic participation and guaranteeing universal access to quality public health, education and care services.
  • Adoption of care policies, such as inclusive labour markets, family-friendly workplaces and gender responsive social protection to deliver a more equitable sharing of care responsibilities.
  • Decent, formal work for all care workers, with safe working conditions, adequately paid, including equal pay for work of equal value. Care workers must be free from gender-based violence and harassment, and from any type of discrimination. Care workers must be free to organise and to bargain collectively.

Social media materials for #Care2023 are available here.