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Global childcare and the broader care economy

This project will contribute to debates on how we can address the negative impacts of unpaid and low-paying care work on individual women and girls, the wider community and economy.

It explores how care-related responsibilities could be more equitably distributed between men, women, boys and girls; how the public and private sectors could better contribute; and how a re-valuation of childcare can be more effectively embedded within transformative social policies, including in the global roll-out of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Three interconnected conceptual framings will tease out the multi-layered nature of childcare, and identify entry points for integrated policy and programming solutions.

Firstly a rights based analysis will explore the extent to which principles of equity, reciprocity and non-discrimination are realised vis-à-vis women and children within the context of different social policy regimes.

Secondly, gender analysis will complement the report’s rights-based framing, considering in particular perceptions among men and women related to the value and costs of care work, and implications for this on socio-cultural norms related to femininity and masculinity.

Thirdly, a political economy approach will help to better understand the challenges as well as opportunities for strengthening policy and programmatic action related to childcare in different political contexts.


Using secondary data analysis, the report will bring together existing but fragmented work on care economy issues into a single narrative. Several new in-depth mixed methods case studies will enable us to understand better the dynamics underpinning changing trends in care work and to capture women’s and girls’ perceptions of the challenges they face.

Outcomes and criteria for success

The project’s outcomes will be a strengthened evidence base on global childcare work patterns and trends, and a set of clear and actionable policy and programming recommendations to alleviate the economic and social costs of care. 

Criteria for success will include the widespread uptake of the report in media, policy and NGO circles as well as its contribution to more evidence-informed, coherent yet nuanced policy dialogues at national and international levels. 



Emma Samman, Tanvi Bhatkal, Nicola Jones, Caroline Harper, Maria Stavropoulou, Biz Presler-Marshall and John Wallace.

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