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Transforming Women’s Unpaid Care Work into Inclusive Business Opportunities - What does it take?

09:00 – 10:30 (Bangkok time, GMT+7), 4 June 2021

Click HERE to access the recordings of the RBHR Forum on YouTube

Organised by the United Nations Entity for the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)


Amongst the social repercussions, the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly turned into a profound economic crisis that has particularly impacted women’s livelihoods and equal participation in the labour market. Since the pandemic began, a larger share of women - 50% compared to 35% of men - in formal employment has seen their paid work hours reduced. In most countries, it is women overall who are noting the largest drops in income from paid jobs, regardless of whether they engage in formal or informal employment. Even prior to the crisis, the Asia-Pacific has been the only region in the world to see a regressing women’s labor force participation rate. 


Even before COVID-19, women and girls in the Asia-Pacific spent between 3 and 11 times more time per day doing unpaid care and domestic work than men and boys. This has been exacerbated by the pandemic, which has left many women unemployed while others struggle to balance the responsibility of working from home with childcare.

While the provision of childcare services is in general a public responsibility to be fulfilled by the state, there are private sector solutions to care that, if well-regulated and supported by public schemes, financing and corporate policies can create opportunities for decent work and women’s economic empowerment. To explore and catalyze innovative market-based and hybrid public-private approaches, UN Women’s WeEmpowerAsia programme has recently launched the UN Women Care Accelerator, a unique 6-month online training and incubation programme to promote women-led and/or women impacting enterprises to build innovative solutions aiming to turn the unequal care burden put on women into opportunities that benefit women, families, and communities. The programme aims to create jobs and income for women by supporting new, creative solutions in the care sector – thus turning the unjust burden into economic opportunities for them. While supporting care entrepreneurship carries strong potential, in order to truly recognise, reduce, & redistribute unpaid care work, multi-stakeholder action from corporates, governments and civil society are also needed to creates an enabling environment for such approaches is required.

Session Description

The session will highlight the urgency of a systemic approach of governments, business, and civil society to address the unequal distribution of domestic and care work. Special focus will be on market-based entrepreneurship approaches as the entry point to discuss solutions to women’s unpaid care work burden. Through the voices of care entrepreneurs throughout the region, the session will explore how innovative care entrepreneurship models have the potential to simultaneously meet child and/or elderly care-needs while enabling women to equally participate in the labor force. The session will also look how professionalizing care services through up-skilling and certification of care givers can create decent care jobs for especially women. Turning to the wider ecosystem and enabling environment required for such businesses to grow, the discussion will also explore corporate, investor and regulatory gaps and opportunities in addressing unpaid care work. 

Session Objectives

The key objectives of this session are to:


  • Raise awareness of the ways in which the unpaid care burden precludes women from full and equal economic participation, especially in the current context of COVID-19

  • Raise awareness of innovative entrepreneurship solutions to address women’s unpaid care burden and creating decent work opportunities

  • Understand the barriers entrepreneurs face to growing their businesses in the Asia-Pacific

  • Create understanding and the role corporates and governments play in supporting care entrepreneurship and addressing women’s unpaid care burden

  • Bring an investor lens to the discussion of unpaid care work and provide for why investment into market-based solutions has the potential to




Panelists and participants will reflect on the following questions:

  • How can market-based approaches to care provide innovative solutions to the increase in women’s unpaid care work burden brought about by COVID-19?

  • How does an entrepreneur build a viable, responsible care business that offers accessible, affordable, quality care services & also creates decent, fair wage care jobs?  What are the barriers that there are not enough market-based solutions to care services?

  • What is the role of the public & private sector to address this issue? What are the current gaps you see, and how can they collaborate to recognise, reduce, & redistribute unpaid care work, and enable more equal labour force participation?

  • practices in building a green decent workplace.

For questions, please contact unrbhrforum@undp.org