From perpetual precarization towards a national care system.

From perpetual precarization towards a national care system.

By Mariana Sánchez Razo
En el último par de años ha sido frecuente recordar las problemáticas que ha desatado la epidemia de SARS-COV2, principalmente las relacionadas a circunstancias políticas, económicas y por supuesto de salud, sin embargo, uno de los problemas más críticos e importantes es a su vez el más antiguo e ignorado: las labores domésticas y de cuidados.   

In the last couple of years, it has been frequent to recall the problems unleashed by the SARS-COV2 epidemic, mainly those related to political, economic, and, of course, health circumstances. However, one of the most critical and important issues is also the oldest and most ignored: domestic and caregiving duties.


The information and perception we have about this labor have their origins centuries ago when, in the name of love and marriage, many women carry out a 24-hour job, seven days a week. For convenience and tradition, the idea that such work is intrinsic to women has been perpetuated. As part of a myriad of myths and stereotypes, household work and child-rearing are seen as instinctive and natural acts of love and sacrifice.

These tasks are a fundamental pillar of society, not only because of the intimate and personal value of maintaining a home but also because the optimal functioning of society depends on it. In the text “Caliban and the Witch,” Silvia Federici explains that the exploitation of women played a central role in the consolidation of the capitalist model because they are, first and foremost, the producers of the essential capitalist commodity: labor power. In addition, the author takes up Dalla Costa’s ideas and points out that “unpaid women’s work in the home was the pillar on which the exploitation of wage laborers was built, as well as the secret of their productivity.” As a result, Federici explains that this production system does not recognize this labor as a socioeconomic activity but constrains it as a natural resource and personal service.

This also implies the complete lack of autonomy for women, with no remuneration or alternative job options. During the pandemic, this precarization has been accentuated, and the emotional toll becomes increasingly evident. “It is never said that domestic work is the most essential service there is because it reproduces life every day. Reproducing life has many elements; it’s not just about cleaning, cooking, taking the kids to the park; it’s all emotional work,” says Federici.

For Claribed Palacio, president of the Union of Afro-Colombian Domestic Service Workers, the most significant struggle has been bringing a topic that should be a government matter into the social sphere. “Movements shouldn’t have to influence to make our paid and unpaid work visible; it should be a State matter,” she says. It doesn’t serve much to honor and thank our mothers and caregivers if systematic economic processes that are hidden behind closed doors do not change. Luzmila Montoya, born in Nicaragua, mentions that it is an ancient crisis, and the struggle has been long. “We continue to fight for the same reasons, but caregiving work never stopped.”

María de la Paz López Barajas, a public policy consultant, explains the multiple aspects of caregiving. In addition to the pandemic, there are various chronic and degenerative diseases that require extreme or permanent care. Furthermore, a portion of the population lacks autonomy due to disabilities. Another important aspect is the fact that we are gradually transitioning from a young population to an elderly one, as life expectancy increases, and it’s likely that most people, as elderly adults, will need care. Needless to say, even in favorable circumstances, far from a pandemic context, not everyone has access to such care.

Currently, there is a push for coordination by the State that incorporates health and education care, which implies the integration of all necessary levels of care. María de la Paz attributes this important step to the current executive branch, but above all to the congresswomen of the gender-balanced congress, women who have sought to continue the path of caregiving in public policies. However, she considers the Treasury Department to be crucial because it is about seeking a distribution among companies, families, and, above all, the State.


National Care System

In collaboration with the Center for Espinosa Yglesias Studies (CEEY) and as a result of in-depth research related to the topic, the creation of a set of policies, programs, and actions to guarantee the rights of all people who provide and need any type of care is proposed. Different groups and organizations seek to create the General Law of the National Care System through the reform of articles 4 and 73 of the Constitution. The following are just some of the data obtained from the study:

  • Unpaid domestic work accounts for 27.6% of the national GDP (INEGI 2021).
  • Women bear 75% of unpaid care work in Mexico (CEEY 2022).
  • Women dedicate 43 hours per week, on average, to household and unpaid care tasks, which is 2.3 times more than men (México cómo vamos 2021).


These policies aim to break the cycle of systemic poverty because 63% of women can improve their economic situation from their origins if they have proper care during childhood. In addition, the goal is to improve educational, health, and rehabilitation services, as well as address numerous problems stemming from domestic and labor precariousness, such as family violence and restricted opportunities for labor development for all individuals.

Mariana Sánchez Razo

Ex ex teatrera y estudiante de letras. Artista audiovisual amante del absurdo y el simulacro que resulta del lenguaje y la experiencia estética.

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