Care work in Mozambique

For a socially and gender just society, a universal social protection system cannot overlook the need for quality and affordable social services

Maputo, Mozambique - February 07, 2009. Young child carries babies over her back and walks through rural village. Photo by iStock.com / wildacad

Social protection, providing support to all members of society in a just way, can diminish patterns of discrimination and subordination in the labour market. This makes social protection one of the core objectives of social democracy.

In 2015, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the World Bank jointly announced future efforts to support the universality of social protection. In this context, however, the developmental role of social protection has been focused to a large part on cash transfers – direct payments to individuals who are eligible for protection – neglecting the need for good and affordable social services as an essential part to providing just social protection.

“Social service provisioning relies heavily on women’s unpaid care work,” writes Ruth Castel-Branco, author of a recently published paper on care work in Mozambique with the support by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the Women’s Network Forum Mulher. “Regarded as something other than employment – an extension of women’s unpaid care responsibilities – paid domestic work has been historically excluded from labour and social protections, posing a dilemma for feminists.“

Castel-Branco’s paper “Beyond cash transfers - Social Protection, Social Services and the Socialisation of Care Work in Mozambique” maps some of these dilemmas that feminist activists and scholars are organizing around in Africa and worldwide. Among them is the individualization of care work, as opposed to more social forms of care, that has contributed to a present where care work still and largely takes place under harsh working conditions, on the back of often informally hired labour or working class, who in turn have little or no support to afford it.

The paper by Castel-Branco is part of the Feminist Dialogue Series, organised by the Women’s Network “Forum Mulher” and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES). The Series was launched in October 2016, in Maputo and provides an exchange platform for feminist activists and scholars to support a more socially and gender just life in Africa.

Read and download the entire paper here. Explore more papers of the Feminist Dialogue Series here.

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