Unpaid care work: utilizing male engagement to shift power hierarchies and entrenched social norms

Unpaid care work includes care of household members, domestic work and voluntary community-based work. It is fundamental to human sustenance and well-being, social cohesion, economic productivity, and growth. Yet, in most cultures, it is inequitably shared with a disproportionate burden being placed on women and girls. This limits their access to opportunities, control over resources and decision-making, resulting in a gross infringement of their human rights.

The 2022 Gender Equality Week theme, Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities, presented us with an important platform to direct attention to unequal unpaid care work and review pivotal strategies such as male engagement in shifting power hierarchies and entrenched social norms. Practitioners from World Vision Canada, Plan International Bangladesh, Canada, and Nigeria, CARE Vietnam and Save the Children Canada came together to advocate for recognizing, reducing, and redistributing unpaid care work, present success benchmarks for male caregiver engagement and reflect on challenges and lessons learned from international programming.

World Vision presented critical success factors from its MenCare model, with a focus on inequities in the division of labour. Plan International shared findings from its four-country research on unpaid care work, conducted among participants of its multi-year and multilevel gender-transformative health program. CARE showcased its research on the impact of unpaid care work on women from ethnic minorities with regard to their participation in economic activities. Save the Children highlighted how positively engaging male caregivers in parenting improves intergenerational dialogue and reduces intimate partner violence.

Watch the Recording:

Meet the Panelists:

World Vision Canada

Merydth Holte-McKenzie:

Senior Gender Equality Advisor, World Vision Canada. Merydth provides leadership on the execution of an organization-wide gender strategy, operational plans, tools and resources for gender mainstreaming, and alignment with internal and external gender equality metrics. Merydth has a long history of working on gender equality programming and strategy development for bilateral health, nutritional and social inclusion programs.

Email: [email protected]

Plan International Canada

Effat Nur

Gender Specialist, Plan International Bangladesh. Effat supports Plan International’s SCORE projects on strengthening COVID-19 response. She has over 8 years of experience in gender specific behavioral change communication, program implementation, research and monitoring. Prior to her association with Plan International, she worked with different government and non-government organizations in multiple capacities. She has graduated from the Department of Anthropology, University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh.

Email: [email protected]

Luba Bello

Gender Equality and Inclusion Coordinator, Plan International Nigeria. Luba supports Plan International’s ASPIRE project on realizing the sexual and reproductive health and rights of adolescent girls and young women in Bauchi and Sokoto states. She has over 15 years of experience on reproductive health, maternal newborn and child health, family planning, etc. with a focus on community organizing, demand creation, social behavioral and change communication with Plan International’s SHOW project, USAID/TSHIP funded project, the Malaria consortium and the NEI+ project among others.

Email: [email protected]

Ajita Vidyarthi

Senior Advisor, Gender Equality and Inclusion, Plan International Canada. Ajita supports Plan International’s gender transformative health rights portfolio with a focus on realizing the sexual and reproductive health and protection rights of women and adolescent girls in all their diversity. She has previously worked on women’s economic empowerment and peace and security-related issues in South Asia.

Email: [email protected]

Save the Children Canada

Ornella Atangana

Gender Equality Advisor, Save the Children Canada (SCC). Ornella provides technical support for gender mainstreaming throughout the organization’s humanitarian and development programming, including the development of new tools and resources to support Save the Children’s positioning and approach to care work. Ornella has majorly worked on programming focused on gender-based violence, girls’ leadership, and sexual and reproductive health.

Email: [email protected]

CARE Vietnam/Canada

Giang Le Thi Hong

Gender Advisor CARE International in Vietnam. Giang provides leadership on strategic and practical gender integration in CARE Vietnam programing. Giang is responsible for updating international approaches and tools to improve innovations to address the root causes of gender inequality. She has practical experience in GBV intervention and women economic empowerment projects in the country.

Email: [email protected]

SAE Foundation

Dr. Sindy Zemura-Bernard

Dr. Sindy Zemura-Bernard is an award-winning humanitarian, global events moderator, public speaker, social entrepreneur, philanthropist and pioneer, focused on empowering marginalized women, girls and youth.

A seasoned leader, with over 12+ years in International Development as well as 15 years in the finance sector, Sindy is a specialized consultant on Women and Gender, Education, Youth Empowerment, Peace and security and HIV awareness.

Given her passion for these causes , Sindy is the Founding CEO of the Southern Africa Embrace Foundation, an International Development charitable organization located In Toronto, Canada which also holds Special Consultative Status at the United Nations – ECOSOC. The Foundation supports the well-being of vulnerable women, children and youth in seven countries in Africa, focusing on the areas of gender equality, youth empowerment, education, HIV awareness and rural development.

Additional Resources

CARE VietnamAWEEV – The Gender Responsiveness of Infrastructure and the Relationship with Women’s Unpaid Care Work: A Perspective from the North-West of Vietnam

Link: https://www.care.org.vn/project/aweev-the-gender-responsiveness-of-infrastructure-and-the-relationship-with-womens-unpaid-care-work-a-perspective-from-the-north-west-of-vietnam/ 

Report on Unpaid Care and Domestic Work: Project on Advancing Women Economic Empowerment in Vietnam (AWEEV)

Link: https://care.org.vn/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/CARE-AWEEV_UCDW-Full-report-ENG.pdf

Video: Unpaid care and Domestic Work

Link: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1LeO0BCDhAVr2Dti_aTFomUjqT9kGxPws
World Vision CanadaEngaging Men and Boys in Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and Nutrition (RMNCH/N) Intiatives: Impact and Lessons Learned from Three World Vision Canada RMNCH/N Programmes

Link: https://www.worldvision.ca/WorldVisionCanada/media/stories/MenCare-assessment-report-results-pdf.pdf

Increased Male Involvement in Women and Children Focused Development Programs: The Impact of Mencare Approach in Enhancing Nutrition Services to Improve Maternal and Child Health in Africa and Asia Program

Link: https://www.worldvision.ca/WorldVisionCanada/media/stories/mencare-report-results-long-version.pdf

Video: Pressure Baby

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Y4LTYatdlQ 
Save the Children CanadaResponsible, Engaged, and Loving (REAL) Fathers

Link: https://www.irh.org/interventions/responsible-engaged-and-loving-real-fathers/ 


October 25, 2022