Key Resources: Care

Care as a concept for development
Global care issues
Care in development programming
Men and care

Care as a concept for development

Unpaid Care Work, Policy Brief – Gender Equality and Poverty Reduction Issue 01 (October 2009) Anna Fälth and Mark Blackden, New York:  UN  Development Programme, andPoverty Reduction/Unpaid care work English.pdf (last accessed October 2014) 8 pp.

This very useful briefing paper outlines the conceptual framework used for guiding United Nations Development Programme activities in the area of unpaid care work. The framework, originally conceived by Professor Diane Elson of Essex University, views unpaid care work as three interconnected dimensions – ‘Recognition’, ‘Reduction’, and ‘Redistribution’ –sometimes referred to as ‘the three ‘Rs’. The briefing paper sets out ‘core actions’ for each dimension. Examples of these actions include, under Recognition, measuring time use in households and integrating them into national statistical systems; under Reduction, expanding access to key infrastructure, and investing in time and labour-saving technologies; and under Redistribution, implementing policies favourable to burden-sharing between women and men, such as maternity and paternity leave, and quality public care services, and eliminating gender wage gaps – which make it more economically practical for women to stay at home to undertake child care rather than men.

The Hegemony Cracked: The Power Guide to Getting Care onto the Development Agenda, IDS Working Paper No. 411 (2012) Rosalind Eyben, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies, (last accessed October 2014) 29 pp.

This paper uses a power analysis and the notion of hegemony, or dominant  world-view,  to examine the historical neglect of unpaid care in the international development sector. In the light of that analysis, the paper looks at how to exploit the hegemonic contradictions – for example, encouraging female employment without paying enough attention to who looks after children, the elderly, and the sick – that provide openings for getting care on to  development  policy agendas. The paper suggests a strategy of a succession of small wins in ‘naming’, ‘framing’, ‘claiming’, and programming care. These can contribute to a change of mindset among citizens, think tanks, and policymakers about the significance of care. A condensed version of this paper – Getting Unpaid Care onto Development Agendas, IDS In Focus Policy Briefing Issue 31 (January 2013) can be found at (last accessed October 2014) 4 pp.

The Political and Social Economy of Care in a Development Context: Conceptual Issues, Research Questions and Policy Options, Gender and Development Programme Paper No.3 (2007) Shahra Razavi, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, (last accessed October 2014) 39 pp.

In this paper, the author traces the evolution of ideas about gender and care. The paper is divided into three sections. The first examines the contribution of feminist economics – which made visible the ‘invisible’, or ‘other’ economy of social reproductive and unpaid work – to academic and policy debates. The second section – Welfare Regimes and Care Regimes – examines the sociological and political science literature relating to the provision of care, and considers different policy options for addressing care, especially from a developing country perspective, including cash benefits, tax allowances, paid and unpaid leave from employment, and expansion of social services. The final section focuses on the current emphasis on ‘productive’ and ‘active’ welfare, and ‘investing’ in children’s opportunities, asking what the implications are for social policy, and issues of care and gender equality. This is a fascinating paper, and the historical perspective it provides is of real value for readers seeking to understand fully the current ‘crises in care’ many societies are facing today.

A Feminist Political Economy Analysis of Public Policies Related to Care: A Thematic Review, Evidence Report No. 9, Empowerment of Women and Girls (2013) Deepta Chopra, with Alexandra Wanjiku Kelbert and Padmini Iyer, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies, Final Online.pdf;jsessionid=CDFEEF08E466307A3082AC14245F3860?sequence=1 (last accessed October 2014) 76 pp.

Focusing on two public policy areas, social protection and early childhood development,  this review of secondary material aims to identify the where, why, when and how unpaid  care concerns become more visible on domestic policy agendas – something that is directly linked to the economic empowerment of women and girls. The authors argue that using the existing evidence to inform public policy would include paying attention to the recognition, reduction, and redistribution of unpaid care work. Findings differed according to sector. For example, social protection policies focused on redistribution of care from families to the state (thus freeing up women’s time to engage in the paid economy), with no attention  paid  to  redistribution  from women to men, while in the early childhood development  sector,  many  more  policies acknowledge men’s role as fathers for redistributing the care work involved in bringing up children. However, the authors concluded that review ‘has underscored the absence of  good political economy analysis on understanding the reasons for the invisibility of unpaid care concerns in national policy agendas’. This Thematic Review forms part of the discussion in a very useful four-page IDS Policy Briefing (Issue 49, January 2014), Towards Gender Equality with Care- sensitive Social Protection, 0.pdf (last accessed October 2014).

Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, A/68/293 (2013) Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona, New York: United Nations, (last accessed October 2014) 24 pp.

Significantly, this recent United Nations report positions unpaid care work as a major human rights issue. Focusing on women caregivers, particularly those living in poverty, the Special Rapporteur argues that heavy and unequal care responsibilities are a major barrier to gender equality and to women’s equal enjoyment of human rights, and, in many cases, condemn women to poverty. Ultimately, it argues that state policies should position care as a social and collective responsibility, in particular through improving women’s access to public services, care services, and infrastructure. A useful introduction to the report, and links to stakeholder documents that informed the final report, can be found on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, at (last accessed October 2014).

Gender & Care: BRIDGE Cutting Edge Pack (2009), Emily Esplen, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies, gender-and-care/gender-and-care&langid=1 (last accessed October 2014).

One of the series of excellent BRIDGE Cutting Edge Packs, this set of documents contains an Overview Report (77 pp.), a Resources Collection (59 pp.), and a six-page Briefing Note. The report’s key recommendations are as follows: care work must be recognised as a core development issue; development policies and programmes must challenge stereotyped assump- tions about gender roles; initiatives to promote women’s economic participation must include an analysis of the interrelationship between paid work and care work; and there needs to be greater solidarity among those working on the full range of care issues – gender, HIV and AIDS, ageing, disability, etc. The Briefing Note outlines the Overview Report, with a second section giving examples of projects where men are actively engaged in challenging traditional gender norms, and engaging in care work themselves, and the third describes the Africa Home-based Care Alliance, in which those caring for people with HIV and AIDS have joined together to share learning, and develop their capacity for advocacy and influence. Although published in 2009, and therefore now not fully up to date, the Resources Collection is still well worth consulting.

Affective Equality: Love, Care and Injustice (2009), Kathleen Lynch, John Baker and Maureen Lyons, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN: 9780230227194, 336 pp., website:

For the authors of this book, while paid carers can perform some of the tasks necessary in caring for others, central to the human condition is ‘the need for love, care and solidarity’ (p. 32), which can only really be met by those close to us performing what the authors term ‘love labouring’. The book draws on interrelated studies on intimate caring undertaken in Ireland, which included a diverse set of carers and care recipients. The studies reveal how inequalities in the giving and receipt of care are shaped by gender and class, how care can be undermined by inequalities of material support, time, and public recognition, and how inequalities in economic, political, gender, and cultural relations generate and reproduce inequalities in care. This book is to be welcomed for its emphasis on love as a central human need in life, when this reality is so steadfastly ignored in orthodox economics, sociology, development studies, and most other academic disciplines.

Care in Households and Communities: Background Paper on Conceptual Issues, Oxfam Research Report (October 2013), Valeria Esquivel, publications/care-in-households-and-communities-background-paper-on-conceptual- issues-302287 (last accessed October 2014) 40 pp.

Written to inform Oxfam’s ‘Innovations in Care’ initiative, which aims to support development, humanitarian, and advocacy practitioners to work more effectively on care issues, this paper seeks to clarify the main conceptual issues and debates and define terms to inform local programming and research on care in households and communities. The author explores the increasing prominence of care in international development debates, including a very helpful annex on the historical evolution of the concept, a glossary of terms, and extensive references. The second section reviews approaches to bring about change patterns of providing care: the ‘3Rs’ framework to ‘recognise, reduce, and redistribute’ care. The last section unravels debates about measuring care – time-use surveys, monetary valuation, and recent research on time-and-income poverty.

Unpaid Care: A Priority for the Post-2015 Development Goals and Beyond, Briefings 6 (2014) Jennifer Woodroffe and Kate Donald, London: UK Gender & Development Network, Unpaid Care briefing.pdf (last accessed October 2014) 23 pp.

The authors of this paper argue that although the burden of unpaid care is now being discussed in the context of the post-2015 global development framework, it still risks being left out of the post-2015 goals in the same way that violence against women was ignored in the Millennium Development Goals – something now regarded as an obvious oversight. The briefing includes recommendations for a target on unpaid care under a standalone gender equality goal in the new Sustainable Development Goals. This would set out the need to recognise the extent of unpaid care work and reduce the amount of care work undertaken by poor women, through fairer sharing between women and men, and the provision of care and public services by government. The authors set out indicators for this target, and practical ways to achieve change, for example, from scaling up piped water infrastructure to tackling social norms through education.

Measuring the Economic and Social Value of Domestic Work, Domestic Work Policy Brief No. 3 (2011) Debbie Budlender, Geneva: International Labour Organization, http://–en/index.htm (also available  in  French,  Spanish  and  Bahasa  Indonesia)  (last  accessed October 2014)

This briefing paper presents a conceptual framework for thinking about what is meant when we refer to the ‘economic and social’ value of paid domestic work and provides a range of different possible ways of measuring this value along with a range of different individuals and groups, at a range of different levels, who can benefit from this value.
The Kingsmill Review: Taking Care. An Independent Report into Working Conditions in the Care Sector (2014), Baroness Denise Kingsmill CBE, editor/files/The_Kingsmill_Review_-_Taking_Care_-_Final_2.pdf (last accessed October 2014) 48 pp.

Commissioned by the UK Labour Party (currently the opposition in the UK Parliament), this report argues that the care sector in the UK is in crisis, outlining the exploitative conditions many care workers face and the low status accorded to this kind of work. Many care workers are, unlawfully, paid less than the National Minimum Wage and lack training. One-fifth of the Adult Social Care workforce in the UK are on ‘zero hours’ contracts, with no stable working hours a week or a stable income. This leads to a high turnover of care staff and difficulty in attracting talented younger people to the sector, which is highly dependent on low-skilled, female, and migrant workers who are particularly vulnerable to exploitation, due to their limited employ- ment options. The report lists policy recommendations, including introducing a Licence to Practice for Care Managers; enforcement of the National Minimum Wage; and improved training and progression within the sector.

‘It buys food but does it change gender relations? Child Support Grants in Soweto, South Africa’ (2011) Leila Patel and Tessa Hochfeld, Gender & Development 19(2): 229–240, (last accessed October 2014)

State social protection measures aim to support care giving in many countries. However, there is a danger that whilst they can ease women’s burden of care and responsibility for household and child survival, they can work to reinforce gender stereotypes, with women remaining largely responsible for caring and looking after families. The authors of this article find that to ensure that they contribute to gender transformation, social protection policies such as the Child Support Grant in South Africa need to work in concert with other public policies that are specifically designed to support changes toward gender equality.

Global care issues

Global Variations in the Political and Social Economy of Care: Worlds Apart (2012) Shahra Razavi and Silke Staab (eds.), New York and London: Routledge and Geneva: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, ISBN: 978-0-415-5220-2, 287 pp., website:

Aiming to fill a gap in the literature on care in a global context – which has largely focused on the effects of globalisation, with migrant workers moving from poor to richer countries to engage in care work – this edited collection examines the provision of care not only in the global North, but in the developing world too, drawing on original research on the care economy in three developing regions – Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In addition to the unequal distribution of care resources globally, many of the studies show that care arrangements can vary widely across income groups and households within one country and even within one city, and that care itself can become one of the drivers of growing inequality.

Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy (2003) Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild (eds.), London: Granta, ISBN: 97818622075887, 288 pp., website:

In a global economy which sees millions of women every year leave behind their homes and children in the developing world to work as nannies, cleaners, carers, maids, and sex workers in richer economies, this classic work draws attention to the ‘care deficit’ caused by these women’s absence in their own countries while they are easing the ‘care deficit’ in the North. The collection includes essays on: domestic workers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the United States; the effects of female emigration from Sri Lanka and from the Philippines on familial relationships; and sexual slavery in Thailand. While including rigorous research and analysis, all the essays are extremely readable, and the voices and experiences of individual women, which appear throughout, bring a human face to the global trends and dynamics the authors are describing, and powerfully convey the emotional costs involved in engaging in such work.

Doing the Dirty Work? The Global Politics of Domestic Labour (2000) Bridget Anderson, London and New York: Zed Books, ISBN: 9781856497619, 224 pp., website: www.

Another classic, this book offers a more theoretical approach to many of the issues explored in Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy. After seeking to locate the role of domestic worker and female employer in relation to the public–private divide, and power relations, the author then examines the experiences of migrant domestic workers in cities in Northern and Southern Europe. Through a chapter on the legacy of slavery in the United States and contemporary migrant workers, she draws out the parallels between the racialised attitudes towards, and the experiences of, enslaved workers in the 19th century and migrant domestic workers today. Final chapters investigate how ideas relating to the contract – social, sexual, and employment – affect domestic workers; and the relationship between domestic workers and the state, in which citizenship is explored. The book is based on primary research carried out by the author, and the voices of the many women she interviewed, which punctuate the chapters, bring alive the theory. As with Global Woman, Doing the Dirty Work raises difficult questions for feminists, laying bare as it does, the race and class dynamics at work in the relationships between female employers and their female domestic employees.

Hidden Away: Abuses Against Migrant Domestic Workers in the UK (2014) Izza Leghtas, London: Human Rights Watch,  (last accessed October 2014) 59 pp.

The 58-page report documents the confiscation of passports, confinement to the home, physical and psychological abuse, extremely long working hours with no rest days, and very low wages or non-payment of wages. The report also shows the UK government has failed to live up to its obligations under international law to protect migrant domestic workers and enable them to access justice if they are mistreated.
‘Women’s migration  and the crisis of care: grandmothers caring for grandchildren  in urban Bolivia’ (2009) Tanja Bastia, Gender & Development 17(3): 389–401, http://policy- mothers-caring-for-grandchildren-i-131706 (last accessed October 2014).

Grandparents play a critical role in the reorganisation of care brought about by the increasing migration of women. Yet, they are conspicuously absent from the migration literature. This article looks at the role of grandparents, particularly grandmothers, in caring for migrants’ children. It draws on a case study of a rapidly urbanising neighbourhood in Bolivia, and identifies grandmothers as both givers and receivers of care. Through a typology of different types of living arrangements, the article seeks to identify the processes that lead to greater vulnerability.

‘Crisis, care and childhood: the impact of economic crisis on care work in poor households in the developing world’ (2010) Jessica Espey, Caroline Harper and Nicola Jones, Gender & Development 18(2): 291–307, (last accessed October 2014)

The 2008–2009 global economic crisis served to underscore the potential effects of inadequate attention to care economy dynamics, with serious risks to children’s education, development, health, and protection evident. Nevertheless, economic recovery measures continue to provide little space or funding for protective or remedial measures. The authors of this paper argue that gender- and care-sensitive social protection measures are a good means by which to support the position of carers and to create better visibility within policy circles, while also demonstrating considerable returns for human well-being and broader long-term economic development. These returns are evident in pre-existing social protection programmes, from which it is vital to learn lessons. Including care-sensitive social protection in economic recovery packages also has the potential to improve the visibility and importance of care in a transformative and sustainable way.

International Labour Organization Domestic Workers Convention (2011) normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:12100:0::NO::P12100_ILO_CODE:C189 (last accessed October 2014).

This landmark treaty was adopted by the International Labour Organization (a United Nations agency, made up of governments, trade unions, and employers’ organisations) in 2011. It is designed to protect the millions of domestic workers across the world (who are mainly women and girls) from the many abuses that they face, extending to them the kind of labour protection enjoyed by other workers. Key elements of the convention include standards for working hours, minimum wage coverage, overtime compensation, daily and weekly rest periods, social security, and maternity protection. The Convention also obligates governments to protect domestic workers from violence and abuse, and to ensure effective monitoring and enforcement.

Claiming Rights: Domestic Workers’ Movements and Global Advances for Labor Reform (2013) Matthew Rullo and Nisha Varia, International Domestic Workers’ Network, International Trade Union Confederation and Human Rights Watch, sites/default/files/reports/globaldw1013_brochure_LOWRES_SPREADS.pdf (last accessed October 2014) 33 pp.

This report lists the countries that have ratified the International Labour Organization Domestic Workers Convention as of October 2013, outlines national labour law reforms that have taken place in the light of the adoption of the Convention, looks at the growing influence of emerging domestic workers’ rights movements – exploring strategies used by activists around the world to achieve progress – and identifies challenges for the future.

Care in development programming

Participatory Methodology: Rapid Care Analysis (2013) Thalia Kidder and Carine Pionetti, Oxford: Oxfam GB, methodology-rapid-care-analysis-302415 (last accessed October 2014).

This resource from Oxfam is aimed at development practitioners, and provides a methodology for assessing care work in rural and urban communities, and for discussing options for the redistribution and reduction of care responsibilities in a more equitable way. It consists of two components. The Toolbox of Exercises (29 pp.) offers a concrete method for implementing a Rapid Care Analysis using participatory exercises and focus-group discussions, which can be adapted to various contexts and programmes. The Guidance for Managers and Facilitators (12 pp.) gives the background for making adequate and effective use of the Rapid Care Analysis tool, and for making decisions in terms of resources, time-frame, and choice of exercises based on the specific programme objectives and types of outputs required.

Making Care Visible: Women’s Unpaid Care Work in Nepal, Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya (2013) Deborah Budlender and Rachel Moussié, Johannesburg: ActionAid, www. (last accessed October 2014) 40 pp.

This excellent report argues that unpaid care work – undertaken by and large by women and girls, and not reflected in economic analyses or national statistics – leads to the violation of their basic human rights to an education, political participation, decent work, and leisure, and contributes to persistent gender inequalities. Unpaid care is more difficult to do in the context of poverty, as basic amenities and access to public services are lacking. The report describes ActionAid’s multi-country programme designed to respond to these violations by making this work more visible and valued by women, men, community leaders, and governments. The first section of the report outlines the thinking on care work that underpins the programme design; the second section describes the programme methodology, including the time diary tool developed; and the third section analyses the results from the time-use diaries, highlights key findings, assesses the impact the programme has had on women’s empowerment, and reviews four relevant national policy issues that can make a difference to women’s unequal responsibility for unpaid care work.

Men and care

Global pathways to men’s caregiving: mixed methods findings from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey and the Men Who Care study’ (2014) Jane Kato- Wallace, Gary Barker, Marci Eads and Ruti Levtov, Global Public Health 9(6): 706–22 (available as an author preprint at uploads/2014/07/Global-Pathways-To-Mens-Caregiving_For-Website.pdf, last accessed October 2014).

Arguing that men’s involvement in care work does not mirror the advances women have made in paid work outside the home, in this article the authors explore the findings of mixed-method research which sought to determine which men are more involved in caregiving, and what childhood and adulthood factors influence their level of involvement. The authors’ findings suggest that engaging more men in care work needs changes to policies and structural realities in the workplace, coupled with changing gender attitudes.

Men Who Care: A Multi-country Qualitative Study of Men in Non-traditional Caregiving Roles (2012) Rio de Janeiro and Washington, DC: Instituto Promundo and International Center for Research on Women, (last accessed October 2014) 76 pp.

This paper reports on the findings of qualitative research conducted in five countries – Brazil, Chile, India, Mexico, and South Africa – that set out to answer the following questions: What hinders men’s involvement in care work and what encourages it? Who are the men who are doing more than the average in terms of care work? How do men understand and describe their participation in activities that have traditionally been described as female roles, both in the home and in the workplace? Based on the findings of the study, the paper offers a set of recommendations for action, and in an annex, sets out the interview protocol used during the research.

Marriage, Motherhood and Masculinity in the Global Economy: Reconfigurations of Personal and Economic Life, IDS Working Paper No. 290 (2007) Naila Kabeer, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies, (last accessed October 2014) 69 pp.

Globalisation has seen rising rates of paid work undertaken by women, often in contexts where male employment is stagnant or declining. This paper examines how women and men are dealing with this feminisation of labour markets, amidst a general prevalence of male breadwinner ideologies, and the apparent threat to male authority represented by women’s earnings, coupled with an almost unvaried resistance to changes in the domestic division of unpaid work within the home, and a continuing failure by policymakers to provide support for women’s care responsibilities, despite the growing importance of their breadwinning roles, which results in many women effectively working a ‘double shift’. The commodification of love and sex in the global economy is explored, as are changing notions of marriage, motherhood, and masculinity, within the context of what the author frames as a crisis in social reproduction. As well as being extremely well-written and argued, the paper serves as an invaluable literature review, with an extensive list of references.

Masculinities, Care and Equality: Identity and Nurture in Men’s Lives (2012) Niall Hanlon, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN: 9780230300217, 272 pp., website: http://www.

This book is based on research data derived from in-depth, qualitative interviews with 31 men living in Ireland. Central to the book is the idea of masculinity in the context of contradictory expectations; that is, increasing expectations that men should be more involved with caring and nurturing while at the same time being subject to commonly held social, cultural, and economic expectations of what constitutes traditional masculinity. The book explores the diverse range of perspectives provided by the research participants on the role of love and care in their lives, and how they position themselves in the light of these contradictory expectations.