To Advance a Just Transition, Governments Must Invest in the Care Economy – A New Report
Investing in the care economy can help cut emissions, address gender and racial inequality, advance systemic change, and provide millions of low carbon and just jobs globally.
New York, Tuesday 19 September 2023 - With demands on governments to take bold action to halt fossil fuel expansion and lower carbon emissions during the United Nations General Assembly and Climate Ambition Summit, so too are the calls for a Just Transition growing. In response, a new report by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) highlights the need for governments to invest in a care economy and women’s leadership for a genuinely Just Transition.
Examining the links between care and climate, Prioritizing Care Work Can Unlock a Just Transition for All demonstrates how investment in high-quality care jobs can help mitigate the worst impacts of the climate crisis, increase funding for public infrastructure, and support economies within a Just Transition framework.
Jobs in education, healthcare, and domestic services— primarily done by women, in all their diversity— are predominantly low-carbon jobs, meaning that these essential care jobs are considered a ‘green job’ as they are central to a decarbonised economy. But all too often, women are being left out of the transition, the report warns, due to the focus on traditionally male-dominated industries, and the lack of women’s representation and a holistic feminist analysis in climate decision-making. Even in the renewable energy sector, women make up less than one-third of workers and just 11% of management and technical positions.
This gender inequality is compounded by unpaid care work, overwhelmingly carried out by women. An estimated 16.4 billion hours are spent on unpaid care work each day— equivalent to two billion people working eight hours a day with no pay. The report argues that providing high-quality green care jobs would be of triple benefit for women, communities and the planet.
Investing in care is key to building resilient and equitable societies— the report offers four case studies of women leading care work, from food sovereignty efforts in the Gulf South in the U.S. to renewable energy jobs in Tanzania. The report also provides a list of recommendations for policymakers aiming to facilitate the development of transition policies that prioritize the care economy and women.
Care needs are only set to grow, with climate impacts a key driver. Increased heat stress, disease transmission, and hunger will add to the care burden, as well as the injury, death and additional care responsibilities caused by extreme weather events and disasters. As shown by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, a strong and resilient care economy is essential to adapting to major disruptions.
The report will be launched during NYC Climate Week at the online event Transforming Global Economies for People, Planet, and a Just Transition on Tuesday 19 September 11:30am - 1:00pm Eastern Time: register here.
For the full program of the WECAN Climate Justice Forum 2023, virtually and in-person, in New York City: learn more and register for events here.
Osprey Orielle Lake, WECAN International Executive Director, US:
“With the escalation of climate-induced fires, floods and droughts globally, it is clear that we need a total transformation of our global economy to truly address the climate crisis. Our global dependence on fossil fuels only further perpetuates the worst impacts of the climate crisis and ongoing harms for people and planet.
Our communities, climate and planet cannot wait, we need a Just Transition that centers care for our communities, and care for the planet. We know that when women are uplifted, opportunities flourish. This report details the many positive possibilities that can be unlocked when the care economy and new economic models are prioritized to build a just and healthy world. We are calling for systemic change in the Just Transition!”
Ruth Khakame, National Domestic Workers Council Kenya (KUDHEIHA) Chairperson, Kenya:
“Most domestic workers here are women who live in poverty, meaning they are vulnerable to climate impacts. Despite this, we are leading the response to climate change.
We look after homesteads, farmlands, woodlands and water sources. We fetch extra water during heatwaves, we ensure children are fed despite food shortages, and we clean up when floods hit. The irreplaceable work that we do will only become more important as climate impacts worsen, more people are forced to relocate, and care needs increase.
Domestic workers are ready and willing to play a critical role in the just transition - to do so, we need care-sensitive climate actions to make care work more inclusive, valued and rewarding.”
OTHER SPOKESPEOPLE AVAILABLE
The Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International
www.wecaninternational.org - @WECAN_INTL
The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International is a 501(c)3 and solutions-based organization established to engage women worldwide in policy advocacy, on-the-ground projects, trainings, and movement building for global climate justice.