Thematic Areas

Women's Unpaid Care Work

UCW 1 - Care work and the economy

UCW 1 - Care work and the economy

An economy requires care work to support it.

The economy relates to all the goods and services that are produced, distributed and consumed for our wellbeing. Care work is an essential part of the economy that is often forgotten. Many women contribute to the economy through their paid work, such as selling goods in a market, and their unpaid work caring for other people and the environment. Care work includes those activities that sustain and protect people and the environment.

Care work enables the productive economy to function. No paid work would be possible without the care work that sustains people and the environment. For instance, a farmer is able to work long hours because there is a caregiver who collects water and firewood to cook the meal at home.

A just economy is one in which care work does not hinder a caregiver’s livelihood, wellbeing and human rights. 

Participatory tools to explore the economy and UCW include: 

  • Activity mapping: What did you do yesterday? - to explore the different activities that women and men do each day and how these contribute to the local economy. 
  • What would happen if ...? - to understand how the entire economy would collapse if it was not for activities that care for people and the environment and exploring how paid work, unpaid work and unpaid care work need each other and connect.
  • Power line – to understand how unequal power relations determine how care for people and the environment is distributed and valued



Here you can download some useful resources.

Tools in this toolbox

Access and control matrix

To analyse who has the power to access and control different resources and who is denied this.The Access and Control Matrix encou…

Activity mapping

To explore the different activities that women and men do each day and how these contribute to the local economy.The tool asks pa…

Power line

To help participants explore the unequal distribution of power amongst people.  It can evoke many negative emotions among partici…

What would happen if ...?

To explore what happens to individuals and communities when care for people or for the environment is not provided.  Participants…