Care economy

Quality, affordable childcare services are key to gender equality in labour market

The ILO continues to support the development of Indonesia’s Road Map and Action Plan on Care Economy by organizing the fourth stakeholder meeting with a focus on childcare services.

News | Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia | 10 October 2023
An affordable, reliable and accessible childcare service has been identified by the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection as the first priority for Indonesia’s Road Map and National Action Plan on Care Economy. As part of the Road Map’s develop process and to identify existing childcare services in the country, the ILO supported the organization of the fourth stakeholders’ meeting in Surabaya, East Java on 3 October.

Vice Governor of East Java, Emil Elestianto Dardak highlihgts the importance of the Roap Map to achieve the Indonesia’s goal to become a high-income country by its centenary in 2045 in his remark. © ILO
Attended by the 120 participants offline and online, the meeting was officially opened by Vice Governor of East Java, Emil Elestianto Dardak. He highlighted in his remark the importance of the Roap Map to achieve the Indonesia’s goal to become a high-income country by its centenary in 2045.

“We need innovative efforts, including the commitment from all relevant stakeholders to reach targets underlined in the Roap Map. We cannot only rely on the bureaucracy, but we need the active involvement from all elements of the society to accelerate the achievement through the implementation of measured and systematic efforts on care economy,” he stated.

We need innovative efforts, including the commitment from all relevant stakeholders to reach targets underlined in the Roap Map. We cannot only rely on the bureaucracy, but we need the active involvement from all elements of the society to accelerate the achievement through the implementation of measured and systematic efforts on care economy."

Emil Elestianto Dardak, Vice Governor of East Java
The meeting started with an update from Lenny N. Rosalin, Deputy for Gender Equality of the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection about the progress of the development of the Road Map and National Action Plan. She presented seven key strategic issues that include 1. Childcare service; 2. Long term care for the elderly; 3. Inclusive-based care service for people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups; 4. Recognition and protection for care workers; 5. Maternity leave; 6. Paternity leave; and 7. Social protection for care work.

During the meeting, Endang Yuniastuti, representative of the Ministry of Manpower, explained that the Ministry of Manpower is now in the process of developing a draft government regulation on providing facilities for workers’ welfares that include, among others, standardized facilities for lactation, childcare, healthcare and maternity. The Ministry of Manpower also highlighted the urgent need for competent care workers, quality infrastructure and social protection coverage.

“There is a need for a budget scheme for developing efficient and effective childcare services. The budget can be taken from the government’s subsidy or the participation of society through, for example, corporate social responsibility programme and other public sources,” she said.

From the perspective of employers, Asiakhul Umam, representative of the Indonesian Employers’ Association (Apindo), reminded that the costs for services related to care economy should not only be borne by the employers and to expand the benefits to informal workers through the formalization of the informal workers. Meanwhile from the perspective of workers, Sulistri from the Confederation of All Indonesian Trade Union (KSBSI), recommended the labour rights of care workers to organize, receive equal wages and social protection and to be formalized.

A greater access to childcare services is needed

One of the interactive discussions on the importance of childcare services to create gender equal world of work. © ILO
The public provision of childcare across 48 countries of Asia and the Pacific was presented by Early Dewi Nuriana, ILO’s Programme Officer for Care Economy. She shared the results of the joint study conducted by the ILO, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) titled “Investments in childcare for gender equality in Asia and the Pacific”.

The report finds that the general lack of the statutory right to childcare is a major reason for the absence of childcare systems across the region. Children aged 0–2 are the most under-served, with mothers generally obligated to exit the workforce to care for this age group due to a lack of other options. Low-income, rural households are the worst affected, while children with disabilities have particularly compromised access to childcare services adapted to their needs.

For this reason, a collaboration between care companies and community childcare services is essential to support paid childcare workers, improve their competencies and ensure the quality of childcare services provided."

Early Dewi Nuriana, ILO’s Programme Officer for Care Economy
Early shared the experience of Indonesia in managing childcare services. In Indonesia, the Ministry of Education has regulated an early childhood education centre for children aged 3 and above to at least a two-hour day twice a week with a total of 236.792 early childhood education centres in 34 provinces. She highlighted a potential opportunity for further discussions among stakeholders to provide services for working mothers with children between aged 0-2 and to extend the operational service hours of the early childhood education centres to suit mothers' working hours, especially in prioritized industrial areas.

“For this reason, a collaboration between care companies and community childcare services is essential to support paid childcare workers, improve their competencies and ensure the quality of childcare services provided,” she added.

Early also shared the experiences of other neighbouring countries. A joint effort to promote equality and inclusion in Thailand, for example, has increased the participation of children from the poorest group of society in early childhood education programme. Meanwhile, Viet Nam has strongly promoted inclusive early childhood education programme by building an integrative approach between centres for early intervention and children with disability programmes.

Singapore, according to Early, has almost reach a universal participation in its early childhood education programme. To date, the country has 1.300 childcare services and 489 kindergartens. More than 99 percent children attend at least a one-year early childhood education programme before entering the elementary school.

Examining various types of existing childcare services

In addition, dr Maya Trisiswati, ILO’s consultant on care work, shared the results of the field visit conducted to four different childcare services in East Java. The field visit was conducted a day before on 2 October, where participants from Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection, Ministry of Manpower, Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology, Ministry of National Development Planning (Bappenas), Ministry of Religion employers’ and workers’ organizations, the Early Childhood Educators Association (Himpaudi) from both national and local levels directly observed, took notes and learnt from.

The visit conducted to a company-based childcare service, community-based childcare service, private childcare service and childcare service owned by the educational institution. “From these various practices of childcare services provided by different types of stakeholders, we want to learn further the possibility and the opportunity to provide more affordable, reliable and accessible childcare services nationwide,” Maya said.

The fourth stakeholder meeting was part of the series of meetings conducted since August. The first meeting was held on 16 August, followed by the second meeting on 11 September and the third meeting on 19 September. These series meetings had involved relevant stakeholders from relevant ministries, employers’ organizations, trade unions, national and international organizations, including relevant civil society organizations for HIV, disability and other vulnerable group.

The field visit to one of the company-based childcare services in Mojokerto District, East Java. © ILO/Gita Lingga