High-ranking officials from ten international institutions and governments call to invest in the care economy and promote the role of men in it


[Press release]

(Cairo, New York), 12 March 2024 – High-ranking officials and ministers from ten international institutions and governments made a global pledge to strengthen the care economy, including through the involvement of men and boys in unpaid care and domestic work, as a way to reduce poverty of women and girls and promote the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities across the world.

The remarks by these high-ranking officials were delivered during a side event of the Commission on the Status of Women 68 (CSW68) held in New York on 12 March that was co-organized by UN Women, the Arab Women Organization, and the National Commission for Lebanese Women, in collaboration with the governments of Egypt, Germany, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Spain, and Sweden.

Titled, The Care Economy in an Evolving World: Equal Sharing of Caregiving and Household Responsibilities between Men and Women as Tool for Social Equity and Cohesion, the CSW68 side event aimed to shed light on the evolving dynamics within families, emphasizing the importance of caregiving for all –and especially children, the elderly and those individuals having an illness, while also advocating for the increased involvement of men and boys in unpaid caregiving and household responsibilities.

Globally, women spend around three times as many hours on unpaid care work as men. According to data from UN Women, this gap continues to be large in the Arab region, where women are still performing many more hours than men in unpaid care work:  between 17 and 34 hours per week, compared to only between 1 to 5 hours per week invested by men, depending on the country.

The event's discussions focused on effective strategies to advance gender equality, sharing knowledge, and tackling challenges related to achieving fair distribution of care responsibilities. Key highlights included presentations from speakers highlighting the importance of legislative reforms such as equal, non-transferable and fully paid parental leave provisions for all parents, economic policies, and cultural changes in promoting gender equality in unpaid care and domestic work. Participants also shared experiences from their countries, highlighting initiatives to boost women's economic empowerment and encourage shared caregiving responsibilities.

According to a UN Women’s regional study released in 2023 that was highlighted during the event, 86 per cent of the decision makers from the Arab region expressed their support to extending the duration of paternity leave in their countries. Further, 62 per cent of the decision makers believed that men’s involvement in childcare should be part of the national public agendas. This groundbreaking research of UN Women captured for the first time ever the views on paternity leave and men’s involvement in childcare from 1,154 decision makers from governments, private sector and civil society organizations from five countries in the Arab region: Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia.

The 11 high-ranking officials delivering remarks at this CSW68 side event were H.E. Dr. Sima Sami Bahous, UN Women Executive Director; H.E. Claudine Aoun, President of the National Commission for Lebanese Women, Republic of Lebanon; H.E. Dr. Fadia Kiwan, Director General, Arab Women Organization; H.E. Dr. Maya Morsi, President of the National Council for Women, Arab Republic of Egypt; H.E. Wafa Bani Mustafa, Minister of Social Development and Chair of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Women’s Empowerment, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; H.E. Aawatif Hayar, Minister of Solidarity, Social Integration and Family, Kingdom of Morocco;  H.E. Paulina Brandberg, Minister for Gender Equality and Working Life, Sweden; H.E. Ana Redondo García, Minister of Equality, Spain; H.E. Svenja Schulze, Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Federal Republic of Germany (through a pre-recorded video intervention); H.E. Al-Sayeda Maani bin Hamad Al Busaidi, Director General of Family Development, Ministry of Social Development, Sultanate of Oman (through a pre-recorded video intervention); and H.E. Wafaa Dikah Hamze, Member of the Executive Council of Arab Women Organization from the Republic of Lebanon.

This CSW68 side event was organized with support from the UN Women’s ‘Dare to Care’ regional programme – a regional initiative funded by Sweden, Germany and the Basque Country.

Quotes from some high-ranking delivered during the event:

  • “Men and boys play a key role in the care economy. UN Women’s data shows that equal sharing of household responsibilities between men and women is key to achieve healthy and thriving families, communities and societies. It also shows that engaged fatherhood can lead to positive outcomes related to gender equality and the empowerment of women and children.  Legal reforms for equal, non-transferable and fully paid parental leave for all parents are a step in the right direction.” - Sima Bahous, UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director
  • "For years, various countries, both from the Global North and the Arab region, have implemented legislation and measures to encourage men to participate in unpaid household responsibilities and care, while urging women to expand their roles beyond unpaid caregiving and domestic work. This aims to redefine the role of fathers in family care and promote their active involvement in such important unpaid work. As the world rapidly evolves, we recognize that strengthening family bonds, which we consider the bedrock of safety, stability, and social integration, entails fostering partnerships and gender equality in household responsibilities." - Excellency Dr. Fadia Kiwan, Director-General, Arab Women Organization
  • “The participation of men in household chores and caregiving undoubtedly sets a positive example for children within the family, particularly boys. This plays a significant role in shaping their mindset, breaking down traditional gender roles, and contributing to the advancement of a society rooted in gender equality.” - Excellency Claudine Aoun, President of the National Commission for Lebanese Women
  • "Fifty years ago, Sweden was the first country in the world to make it possible for fathers to stay at home with their children with paid parental leave. The right for both women and men to work and support themselves, as well as to balance work and family life, is one of the keys to Sweden’s growth and prosperity. Through our investments in international development, we have also proudly invested in promoting equality inside and outside the households across the world, including in the Arab region.” - Excellency Paulina Brandberg, Minister for Gender Equality and Working Life, Sweden


The Care Economy in an Evolving World: Equal Sharing of Caregiving and Household Responsibilities between Men and Women as Tool for Social Equity and Cohesion,