08 Mar Happy International Women’s Day 2020! #EachforEqual
Gender equality for everyone – the central tenant of International Women’s Day. And in 2020, we embrace a new theme on our journey to true parity across all social dimensions. Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said 2020 was all about “Generation Equality”, “the benefits of gender equality are not just for women and girls, but for everyone whose lives will be changed by a fairer world”.
Generation Equality is focusing on key issues facing women across generations, with young women and girls at the centre. One of the key areas of focus identified by the UN at the official United Nations Observance of International Women’s Day 2020 is the unmoving economic inequality which was identified as a “driver of repeating poverty”. Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka asserted that policies are needed that promote equality in childcare responsibility and provide State support to families, and those who work in the informal economy. At EmbraceAbility, we look at how this theme applies to our own work. This year, we are tackling these issues head-on with the development of our new programme – EmbraceAbility’s Disability Inclusion and Gender Equality Programme.
Why should we care about unpaid care work?
The extent of inequalities experienced by people with disabilities in society is felt acutely and is often the result of shortcomings in the structural, social, political and cultural environments. People with disabilities are at an increased risk of poverty due to this reduced access to employment and lower wages. When families, particularly the women within those families, are faced with care responsibilities that are unpaid and incredibly physically and emotionally taxing, the outcomes for those living in poverty can be significant.
It is widely acknowledged that women and young girls take on a disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care work on Koh Dach Island, Cambodia often resulting in their exclusion from their community, and restricting their access to respite opportunities that might advance their education or economic status. Recognising the role of unpaid workers and the essential benefits they provide to the household is something we deem essential.
Unpaid care is largely invisible in development policy and not taken into account in programme design – for example in education and community programmes. When unpaid care does get recognised, it is usually qualified as a ‘burden’ and its central importance to societal and human wellbeing is over-looked.
It is clear to that any sustainable solution must marry two key things – we must find sustainable financial recompense and bring the carer role to light, and we must provide support and education to families in order to share the disproportionate responsibility for care work that falls to women.
Our experience and our ethos
EmbraceAbility recognises care work is essential to human well-being. Care sustains and reproduces society, and has a long-term, positive impact on wellbeing and development. Women and girls care for all of our beneficiaries and bear greater responsibility for unpaid care than men. Women’s disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care work means their ability to choose their education, get a job, find time to participate in community meetings, access a health clinic or rest is immediately constrained. For example, one of EmbraceAbility’s beneficiary’s sisters did not attend school to care for her brother who has cerebral palsy, and only attained a primary school education. The socially prescribed and entrenched gender roles that characterise women and girls as care providers undermine their rights, limit their opportunities, capabilities, choices and impede their empowerment.
It is essential to address gender inequality, and give careful consideration for women’s unpaid care work and the impact that this has on their right to education, health, decent work and leisure. All of these considerations matter when we aim to lift families out of the poverty cycle.
EmbraceAbility’s Disability Inclusion and Gender Equality Programme
This year, EmbraceAbility will be working towards launching our Disability Inclusion and Gender Equality Programme. EmbraceAbility aims to deliver a comprehensive and effective social protection and educational programme to 15 families on Koh Dach Island, Cambodia aimed at reducing household poverty, and improving the educational, social, and economic opportunities of women and for the wider family unit. Crucially, we want to see the sharing of the carer role that has dominated women’s home life for generations and furthered stereotypes that stand in the way of equality and progress. To make this happen we need 100 people to donate.
What can you do?
By donating just £5 per month, EmbraceAbility could lift all 15 beneficiary families (111 people) out of poverty.
Make your change matter by giving £10 per month. EmbraceAbility could lift 15 families out of poverty and provide monthly community workshops to improve economic opportunities.
Make your change matter by giving £20 per month. EmbraceAbility could lift 15 families out of poverty, run monthly community workshops, and fund crucial start-up costs for our daycare and rehabilitation centre for children with disabilities on Koh Dach Island.
A focal-point for disability care and social protection, we hope our programmes and community centre provide the examples for communities to rally behind in their own pursuit of gender equality!
This International Women’s Day, we implore you to help us go even further with our gender equality initiatives. Get behind #EachforEqual and EmbraceAbility’s work today.
Give what you can here!
By Jodie Le Marrec and Oliver King