What Do Mothers and Caregivers Want?

A new international survey asks them

Peggy O'Mara

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In 2020, a group of activists from the Global Women’s Strike and Care Income Now! got together to talk about the need to survey mothers and other caregivers about what they want. For decades, these activists have been campaigning for the recognition of and compensation for unpaid care work, and more recently, for the expanded Child Tax Credit in the US.

They recognized that policy makers seldom, if ever, ask mothers and caregivers what they need or want and that legislation intended to help them is scarce and often beholding to special interests. For example, the child care provisions in the Build Back Better Bill fund particular child-care systems rather than providing individual families with cash to make their own choices, including caring for their own children.

Unpaid work has value

The activists from the Global Women’s Strike have been successful in gaining recognition for the value of unpaid work. They negotiated language to measure and value unpaid work at two United Nations World Conferences and, as a result, the UN now recommends that both paid and unpaid work be counted in national accounts, like GDP. From Unpaid Work and Policy-Making: Towards Broader Perspective of Work and Employment:

United Nations studies and other research have estimated how much unpaid work is done and by whom. On average, unpaid working time amounts to hours a week which are comparable to hours worked in paid employment. The burden of unpaid work and paid work respectively are distributed unequally between men and women. As a result, ‘men receive the lion’s share of income and recognition for their economic contribution — while most of women’s work remains unpaid, unrecognized and undervalued’ (UNDP, 1995).

More recently, the Green New Deal for Europe called for a care income to recognize care work done in the home, on the land, and in support of the environment.

The survey

This comprehensive survey created by Care Income Now! and the Global Women’s Strike, “What Mothers and Other Caregivers Want,” seeks to find out how mothers and caregivers spend their time, has questions about both paid and unpaid work, hopes to…

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Peggy O'Mara

Peggy O’Mara is an award winning journalist. She was the Editor and Publisher of Mothering Magazine for over 30 years. Her focus is Family, Health, and Justice.