Data is key for care policy advocacy
A project by the Buenos Aires City Government, in partnership with Open Data Charter and with the support of IDRC
By Delfina Schenone Sienra and Gisela Dohm, Equipo Latinoamericano de Justicia y Género (ELA) and edited by the Open Data Charter.
Data is one of the tools that allows us to highlight inequality and gaps in the political, economic, social and cultural sectors. One of these inequalities as evidenced by the information available to us is the unequal distribution of care work, which falls mainly on families and, among them, on women. The problem is that overall, information on care is fragmented and, in many cases, limited and lacking.
We are pleased to introduce the project by the Government of the City of Buenos Aires, in partnership with Open Data Charter and with the support of IDRC, to design and implement a Care System of Indicators (SICCABA) the first of its kind, in Argentina l to improve the quality of care:
- To evidence the unequal distribution of care work and contribute to decision-making in order to build more gender-equal relationships;
- To make women that demand and provide care visible;
- To have an efficient tool to design and monitor public care policies;
- Generate dialogue between governments, civil society organisations, international organisations, academia and experts working on this agenda.
We decided to reconstruct the stories of women who provide care through interviews as part of the process of supporting the building of the Care System Indicators. This is how we came across the stories of Gabriela and Eugenia who, like so many women, participate in the care economy, a highly feminised sector that employs almost three million women in Argentina.
Gabriela works as a home carer for the elderly and disabled people. Eugenia as a nurse in a public hospital and in a home for disabled people. Their stories highlight the need to improve the salary and hiring conditions for caregivers, as well as the need to expand the supply of accessible training courses to improve job skills, employability and professionalisation of the sector.
The growing need to increase the supply of home caregivers and to raise the levels of professionalisation becomes clear when we hear the story of Silvina, a 64-year-old woman who managed her mother’s care with the support of a caregiver in the home until she had to place her mother in a retirement home. Her story allows us to see the different roles that women have with care: from direct personal care to the management of that care which, in many cases, is carried out for different groups, like in Silvana’s case , she cares for both her 93-year-old mother and her 2-year-old grandson.
Graciela’s story allows us to understand the interrelationships between the strategies that families develop to meet care needs and the different services available, whether public, private or community-based. Graciela is 69 years old and has a 29-year-old son with autism spectrum disorder. For his care, she has different services such as attendance at a therapeutic educational centre whose cost is covered by the social security and therapeutic companions who are hired privately. She feels fortunate to have the economic resources to pay for the companions, given that she recognises that the public offer for people with disabilities of legal age, as well as the offer of therapeutic companions, is scarce.
In these personal stories, we see how family care strategies are structured, which are mainly the responsibility of women, who, through their care work, provide the conditions for the well-being and development of their family members and, to a greater or lesser extent, find mechanisms in the supply of care services and policies to be able to delegate this hard work.
We also understood that the care supply is often provided under precarious working conditions, qualifications and stability, which has an impact on the quality of the services provided.
These stories capture situations from everyday life that show us the importance of highlighting the gaps between care needs and care services provided by the public and private sectors, and the real and powerful impact on their lives, opportunities and development. They also characterise the need for organised and systematic information to inform policy decisions in order to reduce the current unequal distribution of care that still prevails in our society.
The Care Indicators System of the City of Buenos Aires can be a tool to close this gap.
Our Care Indicators System project with the Government of Buenos Aires City was part of our partnership with IDRC and the OD4D network to promote a feminist open government approach to close the gender pay gaps in LMICs contexts in the Global South.