The global economy depends on the unpaid and underpaid care work primarily carried out by women. But despite its essential nature –– which we’ve seen more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic –– this work is not valued in accordance with its worth. Rather, care work (much like the environment) is treated like a limitless commodity that can be used without cost or consequence.
Instead, governments should treat care work like a collective good, expanding its availability and providing adequate support to those who do it. This includes investing in the expansion of care services, as well as increasing support for unpaid caregivers There’s a role for the private sector as well, in supporting unpaid care work through paid family leave and flexible working arrangements. Investing in care work is not only an acknowledgement of its importance but is also a way to create jobs and foster economic growth without increasing carbon emissions. Care is an inherently sustainable economic sector: rather than consuming resources, it helps to sustain and strengthen human abilities. Curbing emissions will require us to rethink the way we produce and measure value –– moving from a depletion-based economic model to one based on regeneration –– and investing in care is a crucial step in this direction.