The Center for Transnational Migration and Social Inclusion (CTMS) at Seoul National University and the Care Work and the Economy (CWE-GAM) Project at American University will jointly host international scholars, research institutions, civil society groups, and government ministries for a conference in Seoul, South Korea on June 2-4, 2021, with the purpose of examining how care work and care economy lie at the center of reimagining the transformation towards a new normal in the post-pandemic future.
The issue of care work has not been given due consideration in public discourse and policy agendas until recent years. Feminist economists have led a hard battle to bring care provisioning work “out of the closet” so to resolve gender and economic inequalities that ground and perpetuate the uneven burden of care, compounded by other social factors of discrimination including but not limited to ethnicity, race, age, disability, education, and migration status.
The outbreak of COVID-19, however, is stalling or even reversing years of progress on these inequalities, exacerbating the “care crisis” that has further increased the already disproportionate burden shouldered by women. Ironically, the social distancing and related coronavirus containment measures have made care work more visible than ever. While staying at home, more of us have come to witness how women primarily bear the brunt of added care responsibilities in the household, from preparing meals to doing house chores to attending to the various needs of family members. For care workers, their safety and livelihoods are gravely threatened as care work naturally demands physical contact and intimacy; many work while being exposed to the danger of infection, and many have lost their jobs with the closure of care centers and social care services.
The spread of the coronavirus pandemic has presented an unprecedented challenge to the global community on all levels, but it also provides an opportunity to recognize why and how we must focus on care work to reframe our approach to tackling the worsening crises of declining fertility rates, rapid population aging, increasing inequalities, and economic slowdown amid the global pandemic.
The 2021 conference aims to bring scholars, experts, and policymakers to discuss ways toward building a more caring, equal, and resilient society in the post-pandemic world. A serious, sustainable action plan against the coronavirus pandemic calls for a serious investment in the infrastructure for families and communities, at the heart of which is care. Covid-19 highlighted the pre-existing vulnerabilities in our society: the elderly, the children and the disabled are at greater risks of not being provided decent care; the care burden for families is amplified; and women are hit hardest by the increased time spent on care work and domestic labor amid lockdowns, aggravating the gender inequalities that disadvantage women.
Prioritizing care is no longer an option but a must; it is foundational to the operation and recovery of our social, economic, and political systems. The discussion on coordinating policy actions oriented towards strengthening the care infrastructure in our society will hit upon the anticipated impacts of macroeconomic/labor/other care-related policies on social and economic equality, as well as on rendering our society more resilient against future challenges.
The purpose of the Conference is to examine how care work and the care economy lie at the center of a reimagined transformation that promotes inclusive growth and sustainable economic development in the post-pandemic future. It will examine the policy issues related to the provisioning of care work, such as in South Korea, integrate care issues into macroeconomic policymaking, and generate innovative policy solutions to: 1) chronic public underinvestment in care work and infrastructures; 2) the low (and even decline in) women’s labor force participation; and 3) persistent inequalities in the economy and society. We know that you would inspire an enthusiastic discussion of these issues.
Visit the website to learn more: