Prioritizing Childcare beyond G20 - Local to the Global Context
New Delhi, Delhi, India (NewsVoir) FORCES (Forum for Crèches and Childcare Services), aiming to elevate childcare as a critical issue at local, national, and global levels within the discourse on women's empowerment, organized its 2nd consultative meeting titled 'Prioritizing Childcare beyond G20 (Local to the Global Context)' today at the India International Centre (IIC), New Delhi.
As India took over the Presidency of G20 from Indonesia at the beginning of this year, FORCES took this opportunity to bring the attention of the G20 leaders to the vital need to prioritize substantial investment in childcare services. Since ‘women-led development’ became the aspirational goalpost of the G20 Presidency, FORCES decided to amplify the importance of investment in the care economy as a road to women’s empowerment and for the larger goal of sustainable development.
The main objective of this meeting was to take stock of what has been accomplished and highlight the next possible steps that would be important for FORCES to take on in order to facilitate the process of highlighting investment in care economy as a necessary policy intervention for ensuring the economic development of marginalised women.
In the keynote address, Dr. Shamika Ravi, Member, Economic Advisory Council, PMO, said, ”This is an opportune moment for India to develop a comprehensive childcare policy. The key to success lies in harnessing empirical knowledge, leveraging data effectively, and promoting the concept of childcare across various levels of government, think tanks, and among stakeholders. Collective ownership from policymakers and the government is paramount It's crucial to understand that addressing childcare transcends mere social responsibility; it is a vital strategy to combat the alarming rates of suicide mortality among homemakers in India.” Ms. Chirashree Ghosh, Co-ordinator, FORCES said, “A collective process is necessary to create pathways for addressing key issues in childcare. The consultation today has unlocked the doors for a strategic roadmap which will use evidence-based identification of major issues to inform policy advocacy at local, national, and global levels, and bridge knowledge gaps for multiple stakeholders. Moving forward we intend to foster new collaborations, cement existing ones and unite a wide array of stakeholders to advance solutions for the poor and the marginalised to the forefront of childcare discussions.” Highlighting the Haryana Government's special efforts to support the SDGs, Ms. Amneet P. Kumar, IAS, Commissioner and Secretary of the Women and Child Development Department, Government of Haryana, shared that the state has established a separate structure for children under 3 years of age, recognizing it as a prerequisite for young children to thrive. She noted that merely extending the hours of Anganwadi centres and increasing their workload would not lead to better childhood outcomes. In this direction, the government has implemented a Creche policy, allocated a budget for it, and is aiming to collect evidence to improve child outcomes and enhance women's labor participation in the state.
The deliberations highlighted the need to emphasize childcare provisioning as a cornerstone for 'women-led development'. It stressed the importance of recognizing women's unpaid care work and ensuring access to quality childcare to give women the opportunity to participate more fully in the workforce and in public life.
The issues regarding the provisioning of childcare services, both by the state and the private sector, were also discussed. The discourse included strategies for financing childcare services, highlighting the existing challenges in state provisioning and the potential for global and national collaborations to enhance support.
In the realm of private childcare services, exploring various models of private provisioning, unpacking strategies adopted globally, and understanding the associated opportunities and challenges were emphasized. Additionally, the discussions underscored the need for regulatory mechanisms to ensure standardized quality in childcare, particularly highlighting the state's role in overseeing these services.
The policy recommendations and strategies of engagement from the deliberations will be taken with the state chapters of the FORCES to create a clear road map to ensure that childcare and the care economy become a priority focus area for tackling barriers to women’s economic empowerment.
Forum for Crèches and Childcare Services (FORCES) is an informal network of practitioners, civil society organisations, academia, individual experts and other networks that work on the overlapping rights of women, workers and children. It came into being in 1989 and since then had been working relentlessly to make childcare a policy priority. FORCES has its National Secretariat in Mobile Creches, Delhi and state chapters in Bihar, Delhi, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.
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