U.N. agency sees support for family care shared with state

Care for children, the disabled, the elderly and the sick should not just be the obligation of families but should be one shared by the family and the government.

This statement is the result of a March study by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, a United Nations agency. The organization surveyed 500 opinion makers in Latin America.

According to the survey, 90 percent of those surveyed believe that women are the ones taking care of dependents, and 95 percent of these same people agree that the government should pitch in to help pay for this care.

“Most of the region’s opinion makers believe that care responsibilities should be shared between men and women, and that the state should be the provider of a wide range of care services,” said Antonio Prado, deputy executive secretary.

“Most of those consulted believe that current policies are not sufficient to meet care requirements, and that new policies are needed,” he said. “Achieving greater economic autonomy and equality in the labour market involves adopting social and economic policy measures needed to make progress in the social appreciation and recognition of the economic value of
unpaid work carried out by women in the domestic and care spheres.”

Some believe that it is unjust to leave dependent care in the hands of women, and that the society’s mental mindset needs to change to where men and women equally share this responsibility, according to a release on the survey.

“There is a mental association between women and the care of children, the sick and older adults, even in labor legislation. This hampers women’s employability. That is why we need public policies that generate better conditions for children and dependents. This is a demand for social justice,” said Carolina Schmidt, minister of the Chilean national women’s service.

This change in cultural mentality has to begin in the institutions, by eliminating discriminations, the release said.

“The changes needed to achieve equality can only be implemented by changing the prejudices that have dominated our societies for so long,” said Sonia Montaño, the Economic Commissions director of the division for gender affairs.

However, two thirds of those surveyed answered that, during the next decade, care policies will tend to expand and that opinion makers are one step ahead in recognizing the need to develop new policies, said Luis Eduardo González of the CIFRA consultancy in Uruguay.

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