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Global Alliance for Care
"The relevance of care work for gender equality – action for sustainability"

Side Event in the context of the Commission on the Status of Women - CSW 66

Concluding remarks

Ilze Brands Kehris, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights

16th March 2022, 11:30 am to 12:45 pm Est.

The rich and valuable discussion at this side event shows the importance of the topic and of the commitment of the participants. I share your strong support for the Global Alliance for Care and its aim to build care systems worldwide that reduce inequalities.

The human rights to health, education and social protection for all are recognized in the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and subsequent international and regional human rights treaties. Irrespectively of age, or any other status, we all have the right to enjoy an adequate standard of living, and when needed, access to care and support. This means that care is not an act of charity. It is a matter of rights fulfilled.

Lack of affordable and quality pre-primary education deprives children of the quality start they need to develop their full potential and denies parents, particularly mothers, of equal access to work. The absence of community support services and respite care may lead to institutionalization of, among others, persons with disabilities and older persons, where they may face heightened risk of infection of communicative diseases, abuse and even violence and deprivation of autonomy.

Providing care is a shared responsibility between men and women, and is also a responsibility of society as a whole.

Still, we often take for granted that these critical services be provided for free - or at very little cost - by women and girls. The responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have only exacerbated this inequality, while neglecting the protection of the rights of caregivers and compromising the provision of quality public care services.

Also, we should remember that caregivers themselves have care needs and rights. They may be child-carers attending sick family members. They may be older women caring for their eldery spouses or grandchildren. Or, they may be young single mothers with disabilities raising children.

This means that we must invest in gender-responsive public services that meet international human rights standards and that reach the most vulnerable, including those who face intersecting forms of discriminaton. We must break the gender stereotypes which assign care responsibility only to women and girls. And we must protect the rights of care workers and unpaid caregivers.

Gender equality in care and a human rights-based care economy would lead to dignified life for all.

I count on the leadership of the members of the Alliance to advance feminist care agenda as a win-win strategy for gender equality and the rights to care for all.