Member States agree on International Day of Care and Support: A milestone for gender equality and sustainable societies

The United Nations General Assembly, through a groundbreaking resolution (A/RES/77/317), has proclaimed an International Day of Care and Support, to be commemorated on 29 October.

The resolution calls upon Member States, the UN system, civil society, the private sector, academia, and the public to observe the international day annually. It acknowledges the disproportionate burden of unpaid care and domestic work on women and girls and highlights the need to address these structural barriers, which hinder women’s empowerment.

Sima Bahous, Executive Director of UN Women, welcomed the adoption of the resolution and stressed that “this milestone achievement reflects the collective recognition of the pivotal role that paid and unpaid care and domestic work play in ensuring the wellbeing of societies, strengthened economies and increased development. I hope that all Member States use this UN day of observance to raise awareness, improve policies, and scale up investments to transform the care economy and advance gender equality.”

The resolution emphasizes the value of care work and recognizes care workers as essential workers. It promotes efforts to rectify unfair arrangements concerning paid and unpaid care and domestic work, and champions the creation of an enabling environment for women’s economic autonomy and the overall well-being of both care workers and the communities they serve. The resolution also acknowledges the pivotal role played by various stakeholders, including worker and employer organizations, women’s and community-based organizations, feminist groups, youth and religious organizations, and other relevant actors.

Remarking on this achievement, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, stressed that “in marking the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I called upon States to take concrete steps towards establishing support and care systems that are human rights-based, gender-responsive, disability-inclusive, and age-sensitive. Today, we celebrate the General Assembly’s establishment of the United Nations observance of the International Day of Care and Support. This international day shows the importance of building towards care and support systems that protect the rights of those providing and receiving care and support, and as a key lever to sustainable development.”

Adopting this resolution marks a significant step towards promoting the rights of caregivers and care recipients. The resolution is also timely as it takes into consideration a global aging trend, recognizing the growing need for care work and support systems and the importance of investing in the care economy, including the development of robust, resilient, gender-responsive, disability-inclusive, and age-sensitive care and support systems. 

Gilbert F. Houngbo, General-Director of the International Labour Organization, noted the resolution’s timeliness, stating that “The ILO wholeheartedly welcomes the establishment of the International Day of Care and Support on October 29th. It is a timely recognition of the indispensable role of those who provide care and support, in every country in the world. Without these care workers not only would our societies and economies suffer but our fundamental humanity would be diminished. So, let us use this occasion to reaffirm our commitment not only to inclusive and equitable access to quality care, but to decent work for care providers. In doing so we also serve our own best interests, by championing the fundamental principles of human dignity and social justice.”

By recognizing the vital role of care and support and highlighting the need for investment in the care economy, Member States demonstrated their commitment to achieving gender equality and building inclusive and sustainable societies. The resolution sets the stage for increased awareness, improved policies, and collaborative efforts to promote gender equality, human development, and inclusive and sustainable growth.