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BERLIN, GERMANY (March 1, 2013)– WEDO partners LIFE and GENANET, together with the German Ministry of Environment, held a workshop in Berlin last month, February 11th-12th, to discuss how women’s unpaid work and care economy can be incorporated into sustainable development to achieve gender justice. Different voices and perspectives, from scholars and activists from the global North and South, discussed the growing concern about the emergent terminology of “green economy” in development agendas that ignore its social and environment dimensions.

WEDO was delighted to participate in this excellent opportunity to address burning questions about the recognition of women’s work, its link to sustainability, and its inclusion into gender mainstreaming processes in post-2015 agendas such as SDGs, climate change negotiations and biodiversity targets.

Care economy encompasses all aspects of un-paid work, as well as personal care services. Additionally, the term includes the care for future generations and the environment, focusing on the preservation, conservation and sustainability of nature  (Life and Genanet, 2013) [1].  Care economy is intimately related to patterns of consumption, production and social reproduction, which make it a fundamental pillar of sustainable development. Women have advocated for care economy recognition on monetary basis, flexible time schedules, quotas and regulatory labor frameworks that guarantee labor rights and bargaining power to women. While advancements have been made in some world regions, still much has to be done in this terrain to meet different women’s needs, shaped by their diverse economic, environmental contexts, their different income level and their varied educational and cultural backgrounds.

At WEDO, we advocate for a human rights approach defending women’s labor rights as well as their access, use, control and property of natural resources within a sustainable development framework. WEDO has not embraced the green economy agenda that only focuses on “green growth”. Instead we keep working for sustainable and equitable economies where ‘greening’ the business-as-usual economy is not enough. Unless our economies grow in a sustainable way including and meeting gender needs and interests, we will not meet our main development goals. Strong regulatory and redistribution mechanisms have to be put into place by international agreements and platforms, as well as national states, to alleviate poverty and meet women and children’s human rights.

Different mechanisms were discussed and highlighted during our workshop such as the important role of territorial and city planning to build more well connected cities, where women have access to infrastructure and services such as childcare, housing and job opportunities without having to travel long distances. In the same manner, conditional subsidies, lines of credit, infrastructure and training skills, should be made available to women who depend on rural livelihoods to secure land access, water provision and successful commercialization of their products.

All of these – and more – issues will be central to WEDO’s work on the post-2015 development agenda in months and years to come. WEDO applauds the organizers and colleague participants for a workshop that well contributed to essential dialogues at global and, especially, much more local levels.


[1] Sustainable economy and green groth- Who cares? Draft – Background prepared by Life and Genanet, Berlin, 2013.

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