Unpaid care work is not a burden


UN Geneva - In recent years, MMM has strongly advocated for eliminating the use of the word ‘Burden’ in association with unpaid care work. Many people have talked and written about the ‘burden of unpaid care work’, which goes against the idea – and our objective - of recognizing this work as valuable, even foundational work. Our efforts have paid off and we can now claim a small victory as it has disappeared from most UN reports, UN resolutions and other adopted texts.

It all began in 2017 at the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, where MMM was invited as a speaker to a side-event organized by Switzerland. This provided us with the opportunity for an open discussion with the diplomats involved in the negotiations, and the word ‘burden’ disappeared from the CSW61 agreed conclusions.

We have continued our fight against the use of this word, rallying other Civil Society Organizations, and getting resolutions and other UN documents amended, including at the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council, which has just closed.

Our rationale

We should stop associating the word ‘burden’ with ‘unpaid care work’ – for 2 mains reasons:

  1. Although the drudgery of such domestic tasks like fetching water or collecting wood must indeed be recognized and addressed, unpaid care work is about caring for people, children, and older persons in particular; it is therefore essential, valuable and meaningful work, which sustains our society and the economy, and it must absolutely be recognized as such rather than a ‘burden’ – the word ‘burden’ devalues the work of Care
  2. If we want to engage men in doing their fair share, we must present it as valuable – if not always enjoyable – work, rather than a ‘burden’!

In addition, we at MMM argue that unpaid care work develops vital skills, soft skills/life skills in particular, of huge importance in the labour market. These include organizational, human relations & empathy, even negotiation skills….In fact, unpaid care work should be considered as valuable work experience!

Language is critical as it shapes people’s perceptions of an issue and how it will be addressed. Hence our advocacy work against the use of this word.

Today, the word ‘burden’ has mostly disappeared from the UN language, even if it still pops up here and there.

It is all the more important as the issue of the inequitable distribution of unpaid care work has gained visibility and is now on the global agenda.


Most read articles

Women at the peace table: international Conference


Make Mothers Matter, together with the city of Ypres, and its grass roots partners Mothers for Peace, Mama Kivu and the Vrouwenraad, is organizing an international peace Conference Women at

Lire plus

200 million hours spent by women and girls fetching water every day


UN New York - On the occasion of the World Water Day and the UN Water Conference, MMM highlights the impact of the lack of access to safe and clean

Lire plus

MMM welcomes first ever Human Rights Council resolution on Care


UN Geneva, Human Rights Council - Entitled ‘Centrality of care and support from a human rights perspective’, this landmark resolution was presented by the governments of Argentina, Iceland, Mexico

Lire plus
See all the articlesof the category

Latest News from MMM and its Network

Investing in mothers for social justice


It is official. On this World Day of Social Justice, we are proud to announce that MMM has joined the International Labour Organisation (ILO)’s newly established Global Coalition for Social Justice.

Read more

MMM applauds the Care resolution adopted by the Commission on Social Development


UN New York, CSocD62 - The title of the resolution, “Promoting care and support systems for social development”, makes it clear that Care and Support are directly linked to the three core themes of social d

Read more

Investing in mothers key for inter-generational change


UN New York, CSocD62 - MMM's intervention to the Commission on Social Development reiterates that investing in mothers through recognition, education, protection and adequate support is a smart investment, with

Read more

Empowering Families for a Better Tomorrow Insights from We Learn Everywhere Conference


This event, marked by insightful presentations and discussions, addressed the challenges and opportunities that exist in parenting within our complex society and highlighted the tools created to provide parents

Read more

UNESCO Forum addresses Transforming Mentalities, Building Change and Women’s Empowerment


UNESCO, Paris - "Every political promise is addressed to children, every genuine commitment requires confronting the challenge of transmission. From a spiritual, metaphysical and human point of view, we can't i

Read more
Mother reading a book to her 2 daughters

MMM calls for Investing in Mothers to foster social development and justice


UN New York, Commission on Social Development - In a written statement, MMM makes the case for investing in mothers, highlighting the high returns in terms of both gender equality and child rights, and ultimate

Read more