WHO report reveals gender inequalities at the root of global crisis in health and care work

March 14, 2024
“Fair share for health and care: gender and the undervaluation of health and care work" report.

A new report published by the World Health Organization (WHO), “Fair share for health and care: gender and the undervaluation of health and care work" illustrates how gender inequalities in health and care work negatively impact women, health systems and health outcomes.

The report outlines underinvestment in health systems results in a vicious cycle of unpaid health and care work, lowering women’s participation in paid labor markets.

Women comprise 67% of the paid global health and care workforce. In addition to this paid work, it has been estimated that women perform an estimated 76% of all unpaid care activities. Work that is done primarily by women tends to be paid less and have poor working conditions.

The report highlights that low pay and demanding working conditions are commonly found in the health and care sector.

The report illustrates that decades of chronic underinvestment in health and care work is contributing to a growing global crisis of care. With stagnation in progress towards universal health coverage (UHC), resulting in 4.5 billion people lacking full coverage of essential health services, women may take on even more unpaid care work. The deleterious impact of weak health systems combined with increasing unpaid health and care work are further straining the health of caregivers and the quality of services.

The report presents policy levers to better value health and care work:

  1. Improve working conditions for all forms of health and care work, especially for highly feminized occupations
  2. Include women more equitably in the paid labor workforce
  3. Enhance conditions of work and wages in the health and care workforce and ensure equal pay for work of equal value
  4. Address the gender gap in care, support quality care work and uphold the rights and well-being of caregivers   
  5. Ensure that national statistics account for, measure and value all health and care work
  6. Invest in robust public health systems

WHO release