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How Mexico Can Strengthen Public Care Services to Reduce Gender Inequality

Cómo fortalecer los servicios públicos de cuidado en México

This blog is part of a series from students of the Institut de Sciences Politiques de Paris who interviewed reformers working on initiatives recognized by the OGP Leaders Network. Read the series here

Despite Mexico being a leader of transformative gender equality, it remains ranked among the lowest countries in the disproportionate distribution of unpaid labour between men and women. Data gathered by the OECD shows that, on average, Mexican women spend approximately 6.5 hours a day performing unpaid domestic work, which may include housework, child and/or adult care, and shopping, among others. This burden is exaggerated for women who participate in the paid labour-force and who must care for their children while at work. Thus, the urgency to address undervalued care services is vital to Mexico’s gender equality movement.

Effectively addressing gender inequality in paid labour means more than just getting women into the paid workforce. Families must be provided with the proper institutional support to empower women to find paid employment, while also encouraging men to take on more domestic responsibilities.


46% of children aged 0-5 years go to work with their mothers.

Marta Clara Ferreyra Beltrán

Creating a care policy for tomorrow

Within Mexico’s 4th OGP Action Plan, the commitment on strengthening public care services addresses the issues of gender inequality. In 2019, a local diagnosis was conducted in the municipality of Manzanillo, Colima to identify existing gaps and problems of accessibility in care services. 

According to the study, dependents which include children, elderly and people with disabilities are primarily cared for at home by women. To build a sustainable care policy, Marta Clara Ferreyra Beltrán, General Director of the National Women’s Institute (INMUJERES) emphasizes the need of the “3R’s”: recognizing the problem of the informality of women’s work, reducing, and redistributing the workload. 

Upon these observations, a proposal that targets the gaps in care services was created. This pilot model consists of various government recommendations such as public day care, senior care, training of care workers and universal basic income for full-time care workers.

Implementing a care policy in a challenging socio-economic context

Recently, the pilot model has been introduced to the regional government. The Open Government Partnership (OGP) and the Women’s Institute, jointly with authorities, must now identify which proposals could be effectively put in place. However, the implementation of such initiatives face many challenges, often worsened by the pandemic.

Funding the Care Action Plan is a major barrier in its success as it currently has no allocated budget. While many agree that care services require additional funding, such opportunities remain limited. 

These problems have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Public spending has been reallocated to COVID-19 recovery, compromising the feasibility of other initiatives, while restrictions like school closures have placed an additional burden on women.

For this project to succeed and improve the public care systems of Mexico, there must be a social shift to overcome gendered barriers to reduce inequalities and resistance to change. In addition, government support must increase through greater public funding to alleviate women’s unpaid labour.

Fighting gender inequality with OGP

Valentina Zendejas, Deputy Director at the Instituto de Liderazgo Simone de Beauvoir suggests thatOGP assists by facilitating collaboration between government and civil society organizations to recognize care work within the political agenda and find diverse solutions. 

“OGP allows for horizontal dialogue and collective decisions in full transparency” highlights Marta Clara Ferreyra Beltrán. Working with OGP has allowed organizations such as the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas to join the project and perform the diagnosis. More direct citizens participation will be planned to favour a better policy evaluation and design.

This initiative exemplifies one way in which the feminist perspective may be successfully incorporated into open government to improve care services.

Similar initiatives are taking place simultaneously at the national and local level and will hopefully find dynamic solutions for complex issues. Further synergies and peer exchange across OGP projects could increase the reach of such initiatives.

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