Conference Proceedings | October 2005

UNDP/BDP–Levy Conference: Unpaid Work and the Economy

Gender, Poverty, and the Millennium Development Goals
Organized by the Bureau for Development Policy, United Nations Development Programme, in partnership with The Levy Economics Institute of Bard College

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The purpose of convening this conference was to share views, research, and methodologies from around the world on women’s unpaid work and its relationship to the economy within the context of pro-poor development policies. This issue is critical to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set forth at the United Nations summit in September 2000.

Women’s unpaid work consists of time spent on unpaid care for members of their families and communities. It also consists of time spent to make up for deficiencies in public infrastructure, including in the energy, health, and sanitation sectors. Such activities range from providing long-term care to the chronically ill to fetching water and firewood.

During the last decade, an increasing number of countries have collected time-use data, and some have developed satellite accounts in order to measure the economic contributions of unpaid work. These efforts notwithstanding, unpaid work, which is disproportionately carried out by women and children, has not been sufficiently integrated in the formulation of public investment policies and pro poor alternative macroeconomic strategies. In most developing countries, efforts to reduce poverty and reach the MDGs provide a timely opportunity to draw attention to the linkages between unpaid work and economic and social development. Several presenters focused on unpaid work and its connection to employment generation policies, inequality and poverty, deterioration of economic wellbeing, and trade impact assessment. Others presented up-to-date assessments of the state of the art in the areas of conducting time-use surveys, constructing satellite accounts, and developing economic models that include unpaid work.

The conference was held October 1–3, 2005, at the Levy Institute’s research and conference center at Blithewood on the campus of Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.

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