Caring for children and other dependents is crucial to human well-being, and to social and economic development. Yet, most national and international policymakers appear persistently blind to this fact, as has been highlighted by the recent global economic crisis. They need to recognise and value care work if they are to support vulnerable families from the effects of economic downturn. The 2008-2009 global economic crisis has served to underscore the potential effects of inadequate attention to care economy dynamics, with serious risks to children’s education, development, health and protection already evident. Nevertheless, economic recovery measures continue to provide little space or funding for protective or remedial measures. We argue that gender and care-sensitive social protection measures are a good means by which to support the position of carers and to create better visibility within policy circles, while also demonstrating considerable returns for human well-being and broader long-term economic development. These returns are evident in pre-existing social protection programmes, from which it will be vital to learn lessons. Including care-sensitive social protection in economic recovery packages also has the potential to improve the visibility and importance of care in a transformative and sustainable way.
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