The redistribution of household tasks is a challenge in Latin America
Breaking with the traditional schemes of the distribution of tasks in the care of the home and people is one of the main economic challenges of Latin America. This is in terms of living in more egalitarian societies, where those responsibilities do not fall solely on women.
Argentina's Corina Rodríguez, an expert in care economics, addressed this challenge in an interview with Efe during her visit to Bolivia to participate in a meeting of women's platforms. This project is promoted by the Women's Coordinator to discuss unpaid care.
"By better distributing caregiving tasks, we would be freeing up the workforce. In this way, women could participate more in the economy and it would be possible to improve the living situation of households," explained the expert.
Distribution of responsibilities
Many women must divide their time between household chores and caring for children or older adults with some paid work. This implies a double effort that can be redistributed equally among men, women and the State, according to Rodríguez.
"The responsibilities are not only between women and men but also between the State, the market and the community. In this way we can guarantee that households can access public care services," she said.
Role of the State
Some of the ways in which the state can contribute is by increasing the provision of kindergartens for children, generating programs for older adults and providing parental leave for the care of newborn children in order to move towards mutual accountability.
"The idea is to reach co-responsibility and that all people can choose the way in which we want to organize care, regardless of sex, economic status or ethnicity," she said.
For this, according to Rodríguez, it is necessary for Latin America to move towards a social care system that defines public policies in this area.
"The first thing is to create a social demand on the subject. It is necessary to make this problem visible so that the people themselves recognize it. Then build a care policy agenda that allows people to free up paid work time to dedicate to care," he said.
Rodriguez noted that these changes are slow in societies that question "deep-rooted social values. For this reason, an alliance between civil society and the State is needed for these changes to bear fruit and thus "shorten the inequality gap in the labor market.
"I believe that the young population, who already have another way of thinking about these issues, is the hope of accelerating this transformation," he said.
Uruguay as an example
One of the leading countries in Latin America in this area is Uruguay, which has been implementing the Integrated National Care System since 2015. It combines the protection of vulnerable sectors such as early childhood and old age.
"Progress in this regard in the region is very uneven, but Uruguay is an interesting example that shows that it is possible to make progress in care," Rodríguez said.
Work for all
The challenge as a region is to "challenge patriarchal norms in order to move towards a more just world" in which people have the possibility to choose how to deal with this care and not assume that it is women's work, says the expert.
"We are not obliged to care because we are women, or men to provide because we are men, but it is possible to live in a society where we can both be caregivers and providers. It is a huge challenge, but it can be done," the researcher concluded.
Rodriguez is an economist with studies in public policy and care economics from a feminist perspective. She also holds a Ph.D. from the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences.
She is also a researcher at the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (Conicet) in Argentina.