Why the GCPI?

Assessing and improving protections for careworkers and caregivers

There is a significant body of scholarship and advocacy work arguing that states and societies should “count” carework as real work. Much of these efforts have focused on encouraging states to recognize how much carework contributes to the economy, and the gendered, raced, and classed ways in which this carework is often distributed in any given society. Existing research is also focused on quantifying how much carework is being done in any given society.

With the GCPI, we take the centrality of carework as a given and focus instead on asking and answering the question: Are careworkers and caregivers sufficiently protected and rewarded by the state? States already recognize the value of carework for their societies and economies. What needs to be done is to assess how states act on this knowledge and to incentivize them to do more to protect and reward careworkers and caregivers. For this to happen, it is necessary to develop an instrument that transparently rates countries on the work they have done in this regard, clearly charting out the areas where they need to improve, and identifying best practice policies from around the world which they can adapt and adopt.

A migrant domestic worker accompanies a family in Doha, Qatar – one of the most significant countries of destination for migrant carework. (Photo credits: Paul Cowen 2008)

A mother and her child in West Bengal, India. (Photo credits: Vitaly Khodyrev, 2013)

Towards a more universal and inclusive definition of “carework”

The definition of “domestic carework” has changed a lot over the past few decades. The GCPI defines it as carework that is carried out within the bounds of a household, that directly or indirectly supports one or more members of that household. We recognize that two broad groups of individuals can carry out this work. There are domestic careworkers who are engaged in domestic work within an employment relationship. There are also family caregivers who provide unpaid emotional and manual labor for their own family members within the home context. The GCPI recognizes both groups as providing crucial care within the domestic context and acknowledges that the two groups need different kinds of protections.

Harnessing international competitive pressures for recognizing and rewarding careworkers

The GCPI aims to harness international competitive pressures, manifested through a country’s relative position in an international ranking system, to encourage states to strengthen their existing regulations governing paid and unpaid carework. Such international ranking systems have been deployed along myriad domains and have only multiplied in recent years. Some examples include: The World Happiness Report, the Global Liveability Index, the World University Rankings, and the Democracy Index. 

While it is relatively easy to poke holes at the possibly biased or flawed methodologies behind many of these global indices, or the fact that they inevitably simplify and flatten highly complex concepts like happiness or democracy or liveability, it is necessary to acknowledge how much attention they receive from affected organizations, the news media, and members of the public, and the impact the yearly announcements of the latest rankings have had on their respective sectors of the economy or society. The GCPI proposes a similar ranking system to encourage states to improve their policy regimes protecting and supporting local and foreign, formal and informal, paid and unpaid careworkers and caregivers within their borders.

An intergenerational family in Jakarta, Indonesia. (Photo credits: Zurijeta)

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