If we are to move towards an economy of care, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed a twofold crisis. Firstly, care and domestic labourers in institutionalised spaces of work and at home have been marked as essential ‚’key workers‚’, yet, government cuts to social welfare and its undervaluation of paid care and domestic labour has meant that in the long-term, these lower earning groups are more than twice as likely to experience economic hardship relative to top quintile earners. Secondly, paid and unpaid care and domestic labour is disproportionately represented and carried out by women and minoritised (Black and Minority Ethnic) communities; as the care burden during periods of lockdown has largely fallen upon women, it is likely that the gender and racial pay gap, a structural disadvantage for women and minoritised women, will widen inequities or undo any means of progress towards gender equality.
COVID-19 has illuminated the vitality of the care sector, particularly in countries vulnerable to health emergencies with ageing populations. If we are to prepare for future pandemics, a likely scenario within the context of a climate emergency, we must not take the care sector for granted, revalue its workforce, and recognise the intersectional facets of these issues. If so, we will be more socially equipped to deal with future crises and simultaneously start to close the secondary crisis of the gender and racial pay gap.
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