Extending childcare services to workers in the informal economy: Policy lessons from country experiences

Globally, women workers shoulder more childcare responsibilities than men due to persistent gender norms across all countries (ILO, 2018a). The challenge of earning an income and raising a child is made more difficult by the lack of social and labour protections that characterize work in the informal economy. For many working parents in the formal economy, access to social and labour protection and services, such as regulated working hours, parental leave benefits and employer-supported childcare, gives them more scope to choose childcare solutions that suit their needs. Childcare solutions are limited for women workers in the informal economy and in work arrangements such as temporary, part-time or dependent self-employment. Without access to quality childcare services, women workers in the informal economy risk losing out on much needed income by reducing their hours of work, or they may shift into more vulnerable and low-paid forms of self-employment – such as home-based work or street vending – with more flexible arrangements that allow them to work and care for their children at the same time. In part due to their unequal care responsibilities, women are more likely than men to work in the informal economy in Africa, Asia and Latin America (ILO, 2018b). They and the children in their care are among the most vulnerable.