Speaking of care

March 8th — International Women Day

Open Data Charter
7 min readMar 9, 2023


by Mercedes de los Santos, Project Manager at Open Data Charter y Dulce Colin, General Director of Equality and Attention of Gender Violence, Secretary of Women, Mexico City.

February 23rd — Childhood Workshop — Building the Care System Indicator in Mexico City

Feminist economics have analysed the role of women as economic agents inside and outside the household, as a paid workforce in the productive sector and as an unpaid workforce in the reproductive sector, carrying out care activities. This gives rise to the care economy, which provides a more detailed analysis of how these unpaid activities contribute directly to national economies and social reproduction. It also distinguishes between types of work, the characteristics of the people who benefit from this work and those who provide it.

Consequently, and in recognition of women’s increased participation in their development, the Universal and Inter-American Human Rights Protection Systems have urged governments to acknowledge and value unpaid domestic and care work in order to guarantee women’s human rights and achieve equality between women and men. In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, SDG 5 Gender Equality specifically states as a goal: Recognise and value unpaid care and unpaid domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies, as well as through the promotion of shared responsibility in the household and family, however applicable in each country.

Care in Mexico City (by the numbers)

According to INEGI’s 2020 Population and Housing Census, in Mexico City there are 41 people of dependency age (people aged 0–14 and 65 and over) for every 100 people of productive age. 5% of the female population is between 0 and 4 years old, 12% between 5 and 14 years old, 71% between 15 and 64 years old and 12% of women in the city are 65 years old and over. For the male population the distribution is 6%; 14%; 71% and 9%, respectively.

In Mexico city, according to data from the National Survey on the Use of Time (ENUT) 2019, women spend, on average, 28.6 hours per week on unpaid domestic work, while the average for men is 14.2 hours per week. In this sense, women spend on average 11.4 hours more per week than men.

In the case of unpaid care work for household members, women in Mexico City spend an average of 30.4 hours per week on unpaid care work, while men spend an average of 14.5 hours per week. This means that, on average, women spend 15.9 more hours than men on these tasks. Those hours that women take care of could be used for formal employment, health care or leisure.

It is clear that new solutions to the provision of care are required on two fronts: first, in terms of the nature and facilitation of care policies and services, and second, of the conditions under which care is provided (ILO, 2022). To address these, it is necessary to understand, through data, the care dynamics at the local level, the availability of services provided and a more effective disaggregation of demand.

Therefore, in 2022, taking as a reference the Care System Indicators of the City of Buenos Aires built in 2020 with the support of Open Data Charter, the Secretary of Women of Mexico City decided to test the indicators and adapt them to their local context with the aim of making visible and available the way in which care is distributed.

Building the Care Indicator System in Mexico City

A system, as opposed to a set of loose indicators, aims to analyse how all the factors within the four diamond of care relate to each other. How production relates to consumption, the market to the state, the state to households, households to non-profits, and so on. Any alteration in one actor immediately affects others — for example alterations in demographic changes that impact on investment decisions about care infrastructure and service provision.

For its construction, the first step was to identify through a mapping exercise the main actors who will play a key role in the care system: the data managers and administrators. These actors, who can be governmental agents, international organisations and/or civil/community associations, are the ones who will contribute to the construction of the system as data providers. These mapped stakeholders, in turn, were characterised according to their different roles within the platform: data producers, data managers, service providers, data users, among others.

At the governmental level, the main institutions selected to provide data to the Care System are 4 federal government agencies: Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI), Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres, Secretaría de Bienestar, Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social y el Consejo Nacional de Población, y 12 from the local government: Secretaría de Inclusión y Bienestar Social, Secretaría de Salud, la Secretaría del Trabajo y Fomento al Empleo, Secretaría de Educación, Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación, Secretaría de Administración y Finanzas, Secretaría de Desarrollo Urbano y Vivienda, Secretaría de Desarrollo Económico, Sistema Nacional DIF, Instituto para el Envejecimiento Digno, Agencia Digital de Innovación Pública y Instituto de Planeación Democrática y Prospectiva. For each of these organisations, the main sources of data, the format in which this information is published or collected and its level of disaggregation were identified. At the end of the mapping exercise, we obtained 19 public entities as providers, together with 20 non-governmental institutions that could be data users (13 local civil society organisations, 5 private sector institutions, 2 from academia, 11 international organisations).

Peer exchange

The project’s main focus is to promote peer exchange between the Buenos Aires City government, lead by the Statistical Boureau, and the Secretary of Women on behalf of Mexico City, in order to build indicators that best reflect the reality of care in each local context. In this first collaboration, the City of Buenos Aires contributed to the process of identifying preliminary indicators and with recommendations on how to address the main obstacles we faced at the beginning of the project. Our biggest challenge at the moment is to access all the information we need on the social organisation of care, which involves close collaboration between the public and private sectors.

In February, we worked on the prioritisation and refinement of care indicators through three workshops that were divided according to the different dimensions of care. The workshop was attended by different agents from the public sector — DIF, IMCO, Secretaría de la Mujer, INMUJERES, among others -, international organisations and academic institutions such as UN Women, ECLAC, UNAM, among others, and international, social and community organisations that specialise in each of the audiences studied: children, older adults and people with disabilities.

The workshops, led by local organisation Codeando Mexico, guided us in the process of refining indicators from the technical knowledge of the participants and provided us with ideas to ensure that our data selection and indicator construction is relevant and accurate. From the people who attended we learned the importance of having a clear scope of how far care goes in the context of the indicator system, and thanks to their observations we were able to find data to not only talk about caregivers but also about the living conditions of caregivers. With this we can say that in order to characterise any social phenomenon with data, it will always be necessary to reach out to communities of experts who can guide us through our biases or who can provide experienced perspectives on what we are trying to characterise.

February 23rd — Childhood Workshop — Building the Care System Indicator in Mexico City

Next steps

In the coming months, the results of the workshops will be systematised and the organisation will work together with data and user experience expert Civica Digital to build the indicators that will feed into the system in a way that makes the data accessible and easy to use. Based on the data ecosystem and stakeholder mapping, a first draft of the selected indicators will be made and a steering committee will be formed in which a small table of key stakeholders will make a final review. In addition, recommendations will be provided for data governance of the system and visualisation techniques to make complex information easily understandable.

To complement the stakeholder analysis, in March we will coordinate several interviews with key informants from local CSOs and international organisations to gather more information and identify other non-governmental stakeholders. These surveys aim to identify the current scope of the data and the limitations of its use. Once the diagnosis has been made, an action plan for opening up relevant data can be established based on the identified opportunities and priorities.

Finally, any project that involves data collaboration needs to include a training component to educate the policy makers responsible for feeding the system now and in the future on care concepts, knowledge and experiences so that they understand the complexities of the care economy and how to measure it in Mexico City.

We will continue the collaboration between the Government of the City of Buenos Aires and the Government of Mexico City to promote the application of these systems to other local concepts and contexts. We hope that this process will not only improve the quantity and quality of data available in Mexico City on care, but also help to strengthen the competencies of the technical areas in data management and governance so that, at the end, there will be more and better information on the supply and demand of these services to improve public policies.



Open Data Charter

Collaborating with governments and organisations to open up data for pay parity, climate action and combatting corruption.