International Human Rights

A dental hygienist quits her career to care for her child that was born with a congenital heart condition. An HR manager takes a leave of absence to care for her mother dying from cancer. A nurse takes a leave of absence to care for her children and aging mother during a pandemic. CARE work is deeply valued when we are faced with a crisis.

Human rights recognize the “inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family”. The basic system of every society ensuring this dignity and equality is through care for children, parents and loved ones, both individually and through our institutions. This is fundamental to ensuring our individual and collective survival, yet that high value is not evident in the respect for the professions and salaries of care workers. By instituting equitable pay, we can support human dignity and facilitate our collective ability to reach gender and racial equality.

When we put “affordable” in front of “care”, we deeply undermine the value of children and seniors. Families will always strive to provide the best care for their loved ones and most often, it is women that drop out of the work force to provide this “best’ care. Time and financial obstacles to providing the best care possible, increases stress on the care givers, strains the medical system and slows the economy. So, if we all benefit from accessing the “best care”, why then do we rally a cry for “Affordable Care”? And how does this “Affordable Care” approach impact quality of outcomes for individuals and society?

In terms of child care, parents have a deep obligation to raise their children to be stable, resilient, contributing members of society. The next generations will have to think creatively and become leaders that serve on a global scale. “Affordable” childcare cannot instill these values.

The current crisis of COVID-19 has ravaged a care system already stretched thin and revealed how paramount care work is for the elder generation. For all the ‘hero’ signs, those personal support workers (PSWs) putting their lives on the front line in long-term care make on average $19.50 an hour.

When we contrast compensation within female dominated CARE work with roles in male dominated professions within science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), law and politics, there is wide gap.  As women in developed countries forge a wider path into these male dominated, highly respected and compensated professions, we are outsourcing ‘care’ work to women from developing nations. Notably, over 90% of childcare workers and PSWs are women of color from developing countries who face systemic racism and its impact on their compensation.

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Arlene Hearn, Envision & Evolve

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