Who Cares?

March 2, 2009 posted by admin The 53rd Commission on the Status of Women meetings start today at UN Headquarters in New York and will run until the 13th of March.  This year, the theme of the CSW is “The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS.” During this year’s events, I will have the privilege of working with the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development’s (UNRISD) Gender and Development Programme. The Gender and Development Programme at UNRISD has been working on the Political and Social Economy of Care as one of its main research themes for several years now. [One of my favorite gender and development researchers, Maxine Molyneux, wrote the first paper in the series, titled Mothers at the Service of the State.]  As part of the project, UNRISD led gender experts from around the world in an exploration of care issues, with research conducted in eight countries drawn from four different regions.  Within its comparative approach, the project focused on the gender composition and dynamics of the multiple institutions of care – households and families, states, markets, and the not-for-profit sector – and their effects on poverty and social rights of citizenship.

The implications of this research in tracking who gets paid for care work, who does not, who does the bulk of unpaid care work, and how this work contributes to overall economic growth is of great importance – particularly in the context of the current global economic crisis, as government programs are scaled-back and unpaid care work becomes more prominent. In conjunction with the CSW, UNRISD is hosting a conference to present its findings from this project. The Political and Social Economy of Care is free and open to the public, and will take place in the James Room (Barnard Hall 418) at Barnard College in New York City on Friday, March 6, 2009. Speakers at the conference will address the distinct economic, social and political conditions under which care is provided in developing countries, reflecting on a diverse range of country experiences that span Latin America, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and considering wider themes that emerge from comparative analyses, including comparisons with more developed countries. The conference will begin with keynote addresses delivered by two leading feminist thinkers -- Joan Tronto and Elizabeth Jelin.  Other experts in the area, including Shahra Razavi, Nancy Folbre (whose books Family Time and The Invisible Heart are classics on care from a feminist economic perspective), Rosalind Petchesky, and Kate Bedford, will also share their insights on the ethics and politics of care in an increasingly unequal world. Please feel free to post any questions about the event in comments.  You can also contact me at BEETHAM[at]unrisd.org Hope to see you there! --Gwendolyn Beetham


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