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Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Sep 22, 2023

High time to formalize the PH care economy

Care work is something that has been existing within our homes and in our communities, but it has yet to be fully recognized for its worth, even if over one billion people around the world rely on a caregiver.

In recent years, the concept of the care economy has gained significant attention worldwide. It recognizes the immense value of unpaid care work, predominantly performed by women, in nurturing individuals, sustaining households, and contributing to overall societal well-being.

It is impossible to ignore as First Lady Rosalynn Carter rightly puts it, “There are only four kinds of people in the world — those that have been caregivers, those that are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”

The Philippines, with its strong sense of community, deep-rooted family values, and a predominantly female workforce, stands to benefit greatly from harnessing the potential of the care economy - the fastest growing sector of work in the world.

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is right — “Caring is at the base of the economy.”

This week, I joined leaders from different sectors of society to find and carry out solutions to the world’s most pressing concerns at the Clinton Global Initiative — a cohort which has made 3,400 Commitments to Action and helped improve the lives of over 430 million people in more than 180 countries.

Challenging the gender bias

Care work often tends to be overlooked and undervalued, unfortunately. Despite its immense importance and impact on society, it is often seen as “women's work” and therefore not given the recognition it deserves. This inequality stems from outdated gender roles and stereotypes that perpetuate the notion that caregiving responsibilities should predominantly fall on women's shoulders.

However, it is important to recognize that care work is not limited to gender; it is an essential aspect of our collective well-being. By challenging these biases and promoting equal value and respect for all forms of work, regardless of gender, we can create a more equitable and inclusive society for everyone.

We must take action to reach full gender equality. It is disconcerting that latest forecast by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Gutteres estimates that on our current track, it will take another 300 years.

Formalizing the care economy

Globally, 16.4 billion hours are spent in unpaid care work every day. If paid, even a minimum wage, this work would amount to nine percent of global domestic product.

This number is expected to grow. By 2030, 2.3 billion people around the world would need care work — whether children, the elderly, or people with disability.

It is high time that we invest in formalizing the care economy, not only in making it accessible but also in ensuring that care work is recognized, supported, and given the dignity it deserves.

Who takes care of the caregivers

The question that we must ask now is — who takes care of the caregivers? Only when we are able to prioritize the well-being of caregivers can we ensure a sustainable and equitable system that ultimately leads to an improved care economy for all.

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