Decent Work and Economic Growth Gender Equality Reduced Inequalities

From the economy of work to the care economy

What would the world look like if women and men shared care equally? How do families and their situations sometimes ‘fall between two stools’ when they don’t fit the ‘norm’?  And how can their situation be addressed and improved? 

Unpaid work is often referred to as care work outside of employment, meaning caring for children and other kin, but also other kinds of household work that often is invisible and not acknowledged as a vital part of society. The social relations of care, home and work constitute very fundamental aspects of gender relations in society. The Nordic system (with their own variations) relies on a relatively wide range of state-level policies for reconciling work with care, such as relatively generous family leaves and public day care for children, enabling and expecting both women and men to take part in paid employment. Globally many economic, social and political discriminations and inequalities are founded upon inequalities around gender, care and work. 

The inequalities, in terms of opportunities and the position of women and men in the labor market, remain a sad reality in many countries. For example, the increase in working hours for women doesn’t automatically mean more balanced sharing of domestic and caregiving work between women and men. Women who enter the workforce are struggling to find solutions between the responsibilities at home and at work. In addition, care work of the ageing population across the world often falls upon the shoulders of women and girls.  

In this episode Charlotta Niemistö, GODESS institute Director at Hanken School of Economics invites Jeff Hearn Professor Emeritus and Research Director at GODESS Institute, Hanken School of Economics, Nikki van der Gaag, an independent gender consultant and Senior Fellow from Instituto Promundo and Anna Moring from Monimuotoiset perheet (Diverse families) to discuss the deeply rooted divisions of paid and unpaid work and its effects, such as the gendered and aged phenomenon around social sustainability. 

Sound warning: there are a few parts in this podcast where the sound quality is not ideal. Note especially at c. 27:45 the words “women and girls” gets clipped by the unstable wifi to what may sound like “ ’men and girls”.


Charlotta Niemistö’s introduction to the topic

European Commission. Labour market participation:

Additional readings: 

Jeff Hearn and Wendy Parkin, with Richard Howson and Charlotta Niemistö Age at Work: Ambiguous Boundaries of Organizations, Organizing and Ageing,Sage, London, 2021 

Charlotta Niemistö, Jeff Hearn, Carolyn Kehn and Annamari Tuori Motherhood 2.0: Slow Progress for Career Women and Motherhood within the ‘Finnish Dream’, Sage, London, 2021  

Charlotta Niemistö, Jeff Hearn and Carolyn Kehn ‘Care and work matter: A social sustainability approach’, in Christa Binswanger and Andrea Zimmermann (eds.) Transitioning to Gender Equality (SDG5), MDPI, Basel, 2021.  

van der Gaag, N., Heilman, B., Gupta, T., Nembhard, C., and Barker, G. (2019). State of the World’s Fathers: Unlocking the Power of Men’s Care. Washington, DC: Promundo-US. BLS19063_PRO_SOWF_REPORT_015.pdf ( 

Webinars to listen and blogs to read: 

Nikki van der Gaag (2021), Imagining the world anew: the pandemic and gender equality.  

Part 1: Imagining the world anew: the pandemic and gender equality – From Poverty to Power ( 

Part 2: Imagining the world anew: gender equality and women’s rights – Part 2 – From Poverty to Power ( 

Nikki van der Gaag (2016): Webinar on Men and unpaid care: MenCare presents webinar on men, equality, and unpaid care ( 

Nikki van der Gaag (2016): Showing that we care: Challenging assumptions on unpaid care: Showing that we care: Challenging assumptions on unpaid care | Oxfam Views & Voices 

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