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Addressing Unpaid Care Work in ASEAN

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

2021

Asia

Report/Paper

Influencing Gender Norms Workplace Gender Equality

Addressing Unpaid Care Work in ASEAN

Addressing Unpaid Care Work in ASEAN

The Addressing Unpaid Care Work in ASEAN report, published by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and the ASEAN Secretariat, examines the state of the unpaid care economy in ASEAN countries.

By examining the socioeconomic, political, legislative and institutional conditions in each country of ASEAN, this report highlights examples of promising policy measures undertaken either prior to the COVID-19 pandemic or as emergency measures after its onset to address women’s unpaid care and domestic work.

Leveraging this pivotal moment in the care discourse brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the research presented here illuminates the state of the unpaid care economy in the ASEAN region. The report proposes recommendations to introduce a care-sensitive dimension into national and regional gender policies towards building back better and more equal.

While the report illustrates many good practices, concrete care policy actions that could accelerate and strengthen the actions needed to “build back equal” are also suggested.

Highlights

  • Despite significant strides in several areas of social, political and economic cooperation and advancement, women’s economic empowerment continues to be a challenge and gender gaps in economic participation and opportunity continue to persist among ASEAN Member States.
  • The overarching trend found all over the world of women spending more time than men doing unpaid care and domestic work remains true in ASEAN Member States. Also true is the heavier burden of care that acts as a barrier to women’s economic participation.
  • Another dimension of gender inequality impacting unpaid care and domestic work is the extent of urbanisation and housing standards, which directly affect the access to care infrastructure and care services.
  • The gendered effects of this unpaid care and domestic work are felt in terms of reduced labour force participation, especially of mothers with young children; income poverty; time poverty; intensification of care burdens during pandemics; natural disasters or conflicts; mental and physical depletion; and adverse consequences of climate change.
  • Economic growth in ASEAN has enabled the provision of infrastructure, such as safe water, sanitation, transportation and food, but rural populations have yet to receive access to care infrastructure to the same extent as urban populations.

Contents

  • Contents
  • Forewords
  • Acknowledgements
  • Executive summary
  • Abbreviations
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Conceptual framework and methodology
  • Chapter 3: Women’s unpaid care and domestic work in ASEAN countries
  • Chapter 4: Gendered political economy context in ASEAN countries
  • Chapter 5: Care-sensitive policy measures in ASEAN countries
  • Chapter 6: Conclusions and recommendations
  • References

This report was originally published on the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific website.

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