Impacting the labour market

In this chapter, we came to understand why care work is gendered; that is, why women do more care work than men, and how this phenomenon impacts the labour market.

Women spend more time on care work, whether paid or unpaid. This separates them from the labour market, making their income and earning capacity lower. Care work, as important as it is, has received less attention at the policy level. This places women on the spectrum of vulnerability, as they become dependent on their male counterparts for a living.

One of the crucial elements we focused on in this chapter was access to finance. We looked at this issue particularly with regard to women and casual workers, considering that it helps to open new windows of opportunity and needs to be driven by the policy sector. Access to finance for new businesses has a positive impact on the well-being of women, youth and vulnerable groups, as they manage to sustain their livelihoods through savings and business ideas, while having income to meet their needs. To lift casual workers out of the poverty trap, as most earn less than a dollar a day, access to finance is crucial.

This chapter ended with an understanding of the global debate on gender-sensitive and gender-responsive policies. Gender sensitivity is about raising awareness of gender identities, roles and opportunities of men and women. Gender responsiveness is about raising awareness along with addressing the inequality generated by unequal norms, roles and relations through policies and practices.

We examined case studies from Rwanda and Nepal and heard that Nepal has formulated gender-responsive policies. We also discussed the challenges such policies face – and why in Nepal they are still not implemented. It is important to scrutinise the situation, the budgets and the possibility for transformative approaches in any given case to understand what is needed to move towards a gender-responsive situation. We also need to take into account the context of a country with respect to politics, leadership, and so on.

Overall, in order to have gender-responsive labour market policies and practices, it is crucial to identify the gaps and discriminatory practices of the past. Countries also need to redefine and adopt the necessary approaches to benefit casual workers, who constitute the majority of the labour force in developing countries around the globe.