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Care responsibilities and women’s leadership

Bridging policy insights

This policy brief brings together two key areas of research by the Overseas Development Institute: childcare, and women’s voice and leadership. Our aim is to explore the overlap between these two areas and to identify the policy implications that stem from this joint focus. This is important for easing care-related constraints to enable the fuller participation of women in public life and to expand the opportunities and incentives for women (and men) to advance a care-related agenda, particularly one that supports poor and marginalized women and girls. Emerging from this research are four key policy recommendations for policy-makers in both donor and developing countries:

1. Make care visible by including explicit provisions for sharing care responsibilities in policies across sectors, and by ensuring greater linkages between ministries in their implementation.

2. Implement programmes aimed at changing social norms to challenge discriminatory attitudes and behaviours towards women and girls as carers, and to support leadership opportunities for women.

3. Support women’s social and political mobilisation across the political spectrum by encouraging alliances, considering which women decisionmakers are likely to champion care policies, and investing in women’s collective political skills.

4. Invest in filling knowledge gaps on access to childcare, and how this relates to the political participation of women, by collecting better data and learning from past experiences.