On April 13, 2023, the EU-LAC Foundation, the Global Alliance for Care, the National Institute of Women of Mexico (INMUJERES), UN Women for the Americas and the Caribbean and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) successfully held the dialogue "Long-term care: good practices and challenges for building comprehensive care systems in the EU and LAC".
This event represented the third in a series of interregional dialogues promoted by the EU-LAC Women's International Network on the challenges and opportunities for the construction of comprehensive care systems in the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean. Around 150 persons from both regions attended the virtual event.
The event was inaugurated by Leire Pajín, President of the EU-LAC Foundation, who reflected on the direct implications of an ageing population on our societies and on care systems. She highlighted the potential of the care sector in terms of increasing demand for care services for the elderly and dependent people, but expressed concern about the shortage of care workers, which may jeopardise the sustainability of care systems and increase the risk of poverty for people in need of care and their families.
Nava Sanmiguel, Gender Expert General Directorate Sustainable Development Policies, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain, then highlighted the need to link care systems with equality policies, feminist approaches and other areas of public policy in order to achieve effective coordination and an intersectoral approach. She also emphasised the need to strengthen countries' fiscal and taxation systems, as well as to move towards a state policy or a new state pact for gender equality in order to place care at the centre of public policies.
The main panel, moderated by Alejandra D’Hyver, Project Coordinator of Economic Empowerment at UN Women, was made up of Isabel Lovrincevich, President Plataforma Mayor for the Rights of the Elderly Population in Latin America; Alessandra Giannessi, Project Coordinator UNICARE/ UNI Global Union Europa; Verónica Montes de Oca, Consultant Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean; Ana Falu, Executive Director of the Center for Exchange and Services for the Southern Cone (CISCSA) Córdoba, Argentina / Red Mujer y Hábitat Latin America- Feminist Articulation Marcosur. Their contributions addressed the intergenerational aspect of care, the different levels of dependency and the differentiated needs of older diverse women as providers and recipients of care. They mentioned the need to rethink ageing as a social construction, to promote a culture of long-term care from the concept of interdependence and from a life course approach to avoid ageism. On the other hand, they highlighted the importance of rethinking long-term care from a territorial perspective and of valuing community work, as well as improving the working conditions of people who provide long-term care services. Finally, they stressed the importance of promoting budgetary justice in order to create strategies at the legislative, economic and fiscal levels that guarantee the availability of resources for the construction of care systems.
The panel with the experts was followed by an interactive dialogue with those attending the event moderated by Ruth Rivera, Secretary General Ibero- American Federation of Associations of Older Persons, During the dialogue, an interactive tool was enabled to collect the opinions and perspectives of many of the attendees. The dialogue revolved around two guiding questions: What are the priority elements for an effective inclusion of older adults in comprehensive gender-transformative care systems? How could the care systems under construction contribute to a life with dignity, independence, leadership and autonomy for the elderly and persons in dependency situation in the EU and LAC? The main conclusions were the urgency to consider the diverse cultural perspectives on ageing, to promote the effective participation of older people in the design of care policies, to foster spaces for socialisation of older people by putting their autonomy at the centre, to call for social co-responsibility in care and to promote more evidence on successful experiences and lessons learned in long-term care.
The Chief of the Division for Gender Affairs Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Ana Guezmes, closed the third dialogue by sharing some reflections on the progress and common opportunities between the EU and LAC countries to move towards care societies as the solution to the crises of the development models that the regions are going through. She added the importance of an intergenerational care pact, the need to break the statistical silence and measure the economic value of care, and to increase investment in care systems. In conclusion, she highlighted the Summit of Heads of State between the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which will take place in July 2023, as an opportunity to place care not only on the care agenda, but also as an analytical category in other political agendas such as energy and digitalisation.