The Women’s International Network EU-LAC holds the fifth interregional dialogue on care and caregivers


On September 07, 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 protection”. This event represented the fifth 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 120 persons from both regions attended the virtual event.

The event was inaugurated by Emilienne de León Aulina, Representative of the Global Alliance for Care, who reflected on the need to recognise care as work, which implies guaranteeing the right of caregivers to social protection schemes and representation.

Flavia Marco, Gender Specialist and Consultant for UN Women, then presented the results of the joint study by UN Women, the International Labour Organization and the Ibero-American Social Security Organization "Access of paid domestic workers to social security in Ibero-America", which provides a comparative analysis on the access of domestic workers to the benefits of social security systems in 22 countries in the Ibero- American region, as well as the successful practices and barriers that persist. Flavia Marco highlighted the important progress in national regulations promoted by ILO Convention 189, such as the obligatory affiliation to social security, the training of labour inspectors and minimum wages equal to the rest of paid employment in some countries such as Uruguay and Chile. However, she stressed that significant inequalities persist in the working conditions of this sector in relation to the rest of paid employment as a result of several factors such as the existence of discriminatory regulatory and institutional frameworks that do not take into account the particularities of domestic employment and the lack of conditions for collective bargaining.

The main panel, moderated by Lucía Scuro, Social Affairs Officer at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), was made up of Carolina Elías Espinoza, Member of Madrid City Council and Former President Active Domestic Service (SEDOAC); Almendra Orellana, Cabinet Adviser, Ministry of Women and Gender Equity Chile; Larraitz Lexartza, LAC Regional Specialist Gender Equality and Non Discrimination, International Labour Organization; Timothy Ghilain, Chief Executive (Interim), European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities; and Marieke Koning, Policy Advisor Equality, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). Their contributions addressed policies, successful practices and challenges in implementing the R framework of recognising, reducing, redistributing unpaid care work, rewarding care workers and promoting representation to strengthen free association and unionisation. Among the main challenges to advancing equal rights for caregivers, they mentioned the precarious working conditions, the lack of training programmes and professional accompaniment, as well as the social stigma faced by the care sector. In the second round, the panellists mentioned the need to create inter-institutional coordination bodies to strengthen tripartite dialogue between the governmental, trade union and business sectors, incorporating paid and unpaid carers and people who receive care in the dialogue roundtables.

The panel with the experts was followed by an interactive dialogue with those attending the event moderated by Carmen Britez, President, International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF). 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: How could care systems guarantee decent employment opportunities and representation spaces for paid care workers? And how could the care systems recognise, redistribute, reduce and reward unpaid care work? The main conclusions were the urgency of ratifying ILO Convention 189, the need to consider the particularities of migration in the design of care systems and the importance of creating monitoring and sanctioning mechanisms in case of labour rights violations against care workers.

Raquel Coello, Economic Empowerment Policy Specialist at UN Women Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean, highlighted in the closing remarks the need to ratify a Bi- regional care society pact that promotes gender equality and cooperation on public policies and comprehensive care systems in both regions. This proposal was submitted to the Summit of Heads of State between the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which took place in July 2023, the EU-CELAC Civil Society Forum also held in July 2023 and the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (EuroLat) which took place at the end of July 2023, where they signed a commitment to strengthen bi-regional cooperation to ensure the right to care, care and self-care on equal terms.