EWL News

Purple Economy - The case for placing the economics of care at the heart of sustainable development

[Brussels, 25 January 2018] This paper argues for a Purple economy focusing on care at the heart of sustainable development. Written on behalf of EWL, by Anna Sofia Fernandes from the EWL Portuguese coordination, the paper sets forth a vision for an economic model that places care as its backbone. Investing in care is part of a forward looking, long term sustainable development model.

In the current financialised capitalism, under which many women entered the labour market, reproductive activities such as child care, care of the elderly, and house cleaning are organised to a large extent via paid labour and are continuously commodified. These changes are primarily a response to needs generated by women’s increased participation in the labour market and not as a response to feminist claims.

Yet these developments did not change the gender division of labour: women make up the majority of the workforce devoted to care work, which tends to be, in turn, less well remunerated. Women face a double burden since they are engaged in paid work and additionally do most of the unpaid housework. In addition, the integration of many women into the labour market relies on a class and ethnic/racial divide among women: caring activities, such as house cleaning or child and elderly care, are often carried out by women migrant workers, many from Eastern Europe or the Global South, many of whom had to leave their families behind to provide care for others. Gender inequalities and poverty are the main driving factors. This situation is framed as a personal/familial issue, and not, as it should, as a social/political one. Alongside addressing gender and intersectional inequalities, together with ITC and ‘green’ jobs the care sector represents the highest quality job creation potential which cannot be ignored.

The paper proposes a set of recommendations and stresses that macro-economic policies must be gendered.

A summary of the paper is also available in Portuguese.

Want to know more about feminist economics? Visit the website of the Women’s Budget Group and check out their very comprehensive resource pack!

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