Open letter to governments – a Care Income Now!

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Every day and in every emergency, unwaged or low waged caregivers, urban and rural, mostly women, often immigrant women, struggle to protect and care for people of every age and condition. But this work is kept invisible and therefore there is never a relief package from governments for caregivers, only more work, especially with the advent of Covid-19.

In 1980, the ILO estimated that women did 2/3 of the world’s work for 5% of its income. Today women and girls do more than three-quarters of all unpaid care work – a total of 12.5 billion hours a day.

The coronavirus pandemic came on top of the climate pandemic, the poverty pandemic, the war pandemic and the rape and domestic violence pandemics which have hit single mother families, ill, disabled and older people hardest. It is exposing weaknesses in our ability to resist and survive physically and financially – from immune systems already compromised by poverty, discrimination, pollution, war, occupation, displacement and other violence to inadequate healthcare and inadequate incomes, especially in the Global South, in communities of colour in the North, and among refugees everywhere.

In response to the virus, country after country has been shut down – from workplaces to schools and transport – and proposals to replace lost wages are being debated. These drastic measures show that governments can take swift action and find money to deal with “emergencies” – if they want to. At this critical moment, we must insist collectively on what we need. We fear that governments may use increased emergency powers to transfer wealth from taxpayers to corporations, and even impose further controls, surveillance and restrictions on our movements and our lives well after this pandemic is over.

The market values unwaged work at $10.8 trillion but never suggests that women should get any of it. Instead we are advised to get an education and a better paid job. We of course have a right to that. But it does not deal with the indispensable work of life and survival – from breastfeeding to elder care. Only increasing the status, power and income of caregivers can do that.

In the 80s, the Women Count – Count Women’s Work petition issued by the International Wages for Housework Campaign gave voice of a hidden mass movement for recognition of this work. It was signed by 1,200 organizations representing millions of women worldwide, resulting in the 1995 UN decision that governments measure and value unwaged work in national accounts.

The Green New Deal for Europe takes this forward. It looks at what work is needed for social and environmental wellbeing, and what work is not, and proposes a Care Income as a key part of its programme for climate justice. At last protecting people and protecting the Earth can be equated and prioritized over the uncaring market – a major step in transforming the world and saving it. We need this everywhere.

We demand a CARE INCOME across the planet for all those, of every gender, who care for people, the urban and rural environment, and the natural world. 

Global Women’s Strike (GWS) and Women of Colour GWS Green New Deal for Europe


See Endorses here.

Press release here.


  1. Karen Fletcher on 10th April 2020 at 7:45 pm

    All work deserves dignity and fair pay.

  2. Karen Fletcher on 22nd April 2020 at 8:04 pm

    All workers deserve safe workplaces, health coverage, and a living wage.

  3. Cynthia Papermaster on 29th May 2020 at 12:29 am

    A global women’s strike must include demands for
    1. immediately ending nuclear and fossil fuel industries and transitioning to clean, sustainable energy
    2. a global ceasefire and ending U.S. economic sanctions on 39 countries in the midst of a global pandemic

  4. john Tymon on 19th January 2021 at 11:31 am

    Inequality begins as soon as a baby leaves the breast. From then on inequality increases as do the risks to ill-health, both physical & mental. Inequality is the energy that fuels capitalism because equality impacts on profits. In fact capitalism & its hunger for profits must oppose equality. So the struggle of humanity is reduced to the struggle between equality and profits. The human owners of cats, dogs, horses, chicken etc give each animal a fair & equal share of the available resources, and will not allow the strongest animal to take all. But we have evolved some barbaric practices that allows some men to take all, brutalise all, and we even collectively allow this practice to continue, and we even defend their right to maintain this inequality, by actively electing them to powerful positions over us. We rightly struggle for equality, for the many, but we must be aware in all our struggles that our main opposition is the struggle for ever increasing profits for the few, i.e. Capitalism – the need for capital for profits.