A Feminist Political Economy Analysis of Public Policies Related to Care: A Thematic Review

Chopra, D.; Kelbert, A.; Iyer, P.
Institute of Development Studies
Publication date: 
July 2013

What is the importance of unpaid care in the fight for the economic empowerment of women and girls? And is unpaid care a factor in national policy agendas? There is a large amount of evidence about the extent of unpaid care work that women and girls do, and its contributions to both the economy and human development outcomes. However, since the bulk of care work falls to women and girls, the responsibilities can undermine their rights, and limit their opportunities, capabilities and choices, impeding their empowerment.

This thematic literature review of secondary materials identifies the political economy conditions of where, why, when, and how unpaid care concerns are reflected in public policy. It looked at policies on social protection and early childhood development in 144 low and middle-income countries for the past 20 years. This review found that unpaid care work is invisible across public policy in the two sectors studies. This gives us a sense of the low priority given to the care economy by policy makers. The authors highlight the need for more empirical research on the factors that shape the visibility (or invisibility) of unpaid care within public policies.

Publication place: 
Brighton, UK
Chopra, D. with A. Kelbert & P. Iyer (2013) 'A Feminist Political Economy Analysis of Public Policies Related to Care: A Thematic Review', IDS Evidence Report 9, Brighton: IDS
unpaid care
public policy
gender relations
women's empowerment
gender and economics
feminist political theory
Gender equality