On November 7, 2022, within the framework of the XV Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean held in Buenos Aires, the EU-LAC Foundation, the Global Alliance for Care, the National Institute for Women of Mexico (INMUJERES), UN Women for the Americas and the Caribbean and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean held the side event "Towards the construction of comprehensive care systems: Experiences from Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean." This dialogue initiates a series of interregional dialogues on the importance of building comprehensive care systems that recognise care as a human right, a pillar of social protection, a public good, and work in Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries, the European Union (EU) and its member countries. On this occasion, we sought to create a space around the advances and challenges in the centrality of care to move towards socioeconomic recovery, sustainable development and gender equality.
The event was inaugurated by Leire Pajín Iraola, President of the EU-LAC Foundation and coordinator of the EU-LAC WIN Network; Nadine Gasman, President of the National Institute for Women of Mexico (INMUJERES) and Ayelén Mazzina, Minister of Women, Gender and Diversity of the Nation, Argentina. In the welcoming remarks, the panelists highlighted the need to promote the care agenda from the different legislative and executive powers and in multilateral instances to advance in the construction of comprehensive care systems. Likewise, they highlighted the need to recognise care as a human right, a public good, and care work as a driver necessary to sustain life, societies, and economic production, based on collective action and co-responsibility.
The welcoming remarks were followed by a brief presentation by Patricia Cossani, Specialist in care and social protection and consultant for UN Women, who presented advances in the regulation of the right to care in the Latin American and Caribbean region and explained the components, elements and principles to take into account to promote comprehensive care systems from the countries of the region.
Belén Sanz, Representative of UN Women Mexico and the Global Alliance for Care, moderated the conversation among the invited experts on the advances and good practices in the recognition of care as a right and fundamental pillar of well-being and the reduction of inequalities; the reduction of the burden of care work, which falls mainly on women, and the redistribution of care. The invited panelists were Celina Esther Lezcano, Minister of Women of Paraguay; Clemencia Carabalí, Presidential Advisor for Women's Equality of Colombia; Montserrat Ruiz, President of the Human Rights Commission of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica; and Natalia Gherardi, Executive Director of the Latin American Team for Justice and Gender. The panelists highlighted the need to institutionalise care through new legislation or constitutional reforms that place care at the center of the gender equality agenda. In the words of Natalia Gherardi: “there is no way to think about the development of the country or the region without thinking about care”. Likewise, they agreed on the importance of building regional and participatory dialogues to advance in the construction of comprehensive care systems with a territorial approach to incorporate the diverse knowledge and experiences regarding care, intergenerational, and gender approach to achieve the sustainability of the systems. They also emphasised creating dignified and protective work environments for caregivers and guaranteeing a joint responsibility approach that promotes articulation between different sectors.
The dialogue was concluded by Cecilia Alemany, UN Women Deputy Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean; Lucía Scuro, Social Affairs Officer of ECLAC's Gender Affairs Division; María Cristina Perceval, Secretary for Equality and Diversity Policies of Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity of Argentina and Leire Pajín. The panelists agreed on the importance of generating political commitment and demanding financing for the progressive and sustainable construction of comprehensive care systems in spaces such as the XV Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean. They called for an interregional dialogue to move towards common concepts and objectives regarding care. Finally, they invited the countries and attendees to join the Global Care Alliance and the EU-LAC International Women's Network.