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The benefits of investing in transformative childcare policy packages towards gender equality and social justice

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International Labour Organization
Publication Date: 
26 Oct 2023


Key highlights

  • The widespread call for public investment in the care economy is grounded in multiple socio-economic benefits – including job generation with decent work; the reduction of intersecting inequalities, including gender inequalities; and improvements in health and well-being across populations – but also in the high potential return on investment for economies and societies.
  • Progress in closing legal and implementation gaps in care leave policies and services has not been sufficient as, currently, there exists a global average childcare policy gap of 4.2 years, which acts as a structural barrier in the world of work, especially for women.
  • It is estimated that every dollar invested in closing the childcare policy gap could result in an average increase of US$3.76 in global GDP by 2035. Regional and income group ROI estimates show that closing the childcare policy gap yields benefits for everyone, everywhere.
  • The investment benefit is not limited to the potential return on investment but also to the benefits related to gender equality. The investment in childcare-related leave and early childhood care and education (ECCE) services could increase women’s employment rate from a global average of 46.2 per cent in 2019 to 56.5 per cent in 2035, and reduce the global gender gap in monthly earnings from 20.1 per cent in 2019 to 8.0 per cent in 2035.
  •  Persisting childcare policy gaps hamper the transformative agenda for gender equality and non-discrimination at work