Women economic empowerment in the Arab region: Guidelines to advance care policies

The care economy is the total of all paid and unpaid care work and encompasses all relations between a care-provider and a care-receiver which maintain and enhance the recipient's health, capacities and skills. The burden of providing care falls disproportionately on women, with unpaid care work accounting for over half of all work time globally. In the Arab States, women carry out 80 to 90 per cent of all unpaid care tasks and consequently have little time to participate in the work force or advance their careers. These large gender gaps are closely linked to the structure of the care economy and care policies in the Arab region which offer no help in alleviating the burden of unpaid care work. Therefore, investing in the care economy and designing and implementing care policies is critical to boost women's economic empowerment and gender equality and achieve SDG 5 with care activities supported by legislations, policies and services to recognize, reduce and redistribute unpaid care work. Transformative care policies relating to the labour market, social protection and care-relevant infrastructure are needed to empower and guarantee the rights of both care givers and receivers. This document is designed to help policymakers in the Arab States and non-governmental stakeholders to support and scale up their efforts to advance care economy and policies and promote women’s economic participation, explaining the different approaches and types of care policies and the questions that should be answered when designing and implementing care policies, with examples of successful approaches used in other countries.