Building climate resilient societies requires sustainable care systems, say leaders of the Global Alliance for Care

The Government of Mexico through its National Institute of Women (INMUJERES) and UN Women co-convene the Alliance, which was launched at the Generation Equality Forum as a collective commitment of the Action Coalition on Economic Justice and Rights.

UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous emphasized the importance of placing care work at the heart of a feminist COVID-19 recovery and securing care as a human right.

“We need a holistic approach to care and climate change – one that prioritizes people over profits, expands gender-responsive climate action and builds resilience to economic and environmental shocks,” said Ms. Bahous.

Together, the Alliance’s 55 members are working across key focus areas, including advocacy, multilateralism and international cooperation; knowledge promotion and data generation; and communication, to transform the care economy for the economic empowerment of women and girls.

Promoting sustainable care systems is at the centre of Mexico’s and the Global Alliance’s work, whose “main objective is to appeal to the current climate crisis and contribute to the construction of healthy and resilient societies,” outlined President of the National Institute of Women of Mexico Nadine Gasman, opening the event organized by Mexico, Germany and UN Women.

The multistakeholder discussion, moderated by WABC News Anchor Sade Baderinwa, explored how the Global Alliance can play a catalytic role in advocating for the inclusion of a care dimension across all environmental, social and economic policy making.

This will not only drive progress on gender equality, but also for the much-needed transition to a green and sustainable economy. For example, transitioning to low-carbon work will rely on a dramatic expansion of care work. If managed through a gender and human rights approach, this has the potential to generate transformative change for women and the planet.

“We need to see a transformation; a profound, deep transformation recognizing the links between economy, society and the environment. That’s why we are proposing this Global Alliance for Care — so that we can place women and the sustainability of life right at the centre of our work,” said the Chief of the Division for Gender Affairs of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Ana Güezmes, in her keynote address.

Yet this green transition must not happen at the expense of unpaid or underpaid care providers, warned speakers. The Alliance will continue to prioritize raising the standards and conditions of care work and protecting women’s human rights in care workforce. The role that trade unions can play in ensuring rights and standards are upheld should not be overlooked, Chair of the ITUC Women’s Committee and Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress, Siobhan Vipond, reminded participants.

The speakers showcased examples of transformative care policies and programmes that are being implemented in their sectors. From the ‘Family Act’ in Italy and the ‘Early Learning and Childcare Agreement’ in Canada, to the ‘Neighbourhood Nannies” initiative in Greece and the SEWA Sangini Child Care Workers’ Cooperative in India, members of the Global Alliance are setting new standards for addressing the care economy nationally and are already seeing positive results.

Women’s Rights Policy Specialist at Oxfam, Amar Nijhawan, shared insights into how youth actors are approaching the intersecting crises of care and the climate emergency. “Youth activists are speaking to the fact that care work isn’t a burden, it is a social good that needs to be invested in and valued,” she said.

The Global Alliance members re-iterated their commitment to listen to a diversity of voices, experiences and demands throughout their efforts advance a feminist care agenda that places care at the centre of gender equality and climate action.