I just completed research on unpaid care work dynamics and market systems programmes. While it didn’t target nutrition directly, the implications of the research are clearly linked to it. We have identified the key factors that often undermine women when unpaid care work is heavy, excessive or invisible, within value chain programmes, and the consequences for both the agriculture value chain and for women of not addressing these. Unpaid care can intersect often with agriculture or nutrition related programmes or policies through impacts on time, mobility and agency:
· Time: the more that women increase or decrease time in one sphere directly affects the time available in others.
· Mobility: some women’s responsibilities can limit their mobility and ability to, for example, find stable employment.
· Agency: if unpaid work is not seen as contributing, it can lead to women’s limited control over resources or undermine their self-esteem.
Our research highlighted the need to address the problematic aspects of care provision if we are to generate sustainable changes that support women’s economic empowerment. We also explored tools to understand this, and more importantly, strategies to address it, highlighting the potential of using systems thinking to facilitate change following participatory processes.
The report is not published yet, but it will offer a range of pathways for programmes to facilitate changes to address problematic aspects of unpaid care work, including how to influence norms, through a combination of short- and longer-term changes that contribute to the long-term vision. A key recommendation is to combine interventions to directly address unpaid care, with others that support changes in the agricultural value chain to adapt to existing care responsibilities can be an effective approach. There are successful programme examples that show how, by combining short-term changes or 'quick wins' (e.g. increased recognition of care or adapting market activities to care) with longer-term changes, the underlying constraints can be addressed, even those that seem challenging, such as influencing social norms.
You can find more information about our work here: https://beamexchange.org/practice/research/womens-economic-empowerment/unpaid-care-work/ or contact me, as we will publish the report very soon