Care in Latin America and the Caribbean During the COVID-19

Towards Comprehensive Systems to Strengthen Response and Recovery

Authored by: The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

Categories: Global Public Health, Humanitarian Emergencies
Sub-Categories: COVID-19, Economic Participation, Economic Recovery, Human Development, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Sexual and Reproductive Health
Region: Latin America and the Caribbean
Year: 2020
Citation: "Care in Latin America and the Caribbean During the COVID-19: Towards Comprehensive Systems to Strengthen Response and Recovery." The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. 2020.

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Executive Summary

The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the centrality of care, highlighting the unsustainability of its current organization. In Latin America and the Caribbean, since before the pandemic, women have dedicated three times the number of hours as men to unpaid work. This situation has been aggravated by the rising demand for care and the reduced supply of services caused by the social distancing and lockdown measures that have been adopted to curb the health crisis. Moreover, the so-called ‘new normal’ will involve important changes to education and employment, given that the social infrastructure is not in line with the new distancing measures, which creates new challenges in reorganizing productive and reproductive work in the medium term, and new pressure on the national education and health and social care systems beyond the crisis.

The construction of comprehensive care systems is a fundamental factor in achieving the empowerment of women and gender equality, and it is a key element in socioeconomic recovery in that it creates jobs both directly and indirectly and enables other sectors of the economy to function adequately. For these reasons, UN Women and ECLAC are calling for the governments in the region to put care at the center of their responses to COVID-19, by creating incentive and recovery packages, promoting comprehensive systems that ensure access to care for people who need it, and guaranteeing the rights of those who provide it. These comprehensive care systems can become a real driver for a socioeconomic recovery which leaves nobody behind.

This document substantiates the importance of care work for societies, defines the care sector’s current condition in Latin America and the Caribbean and describes the impacts caused by the COVID-19 crisis, as well as the contingency measures that have been implemented in various countries in the region to address the crisis. The document concludes with a series of policy recommendations to address the care crisis as a way out of the COVID-19 crisis.