Smart investment in global childcare requires local solutions and a coordinated research agenda
Delbiso, Tefera Darge
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The COVID-19 pandemic has re-emphasised the critical role of accessible, affordable and quality childcare to reduce and redistribute the gender unequal distribution of unpaid care work as an investment towards the well-being of children, women, families and society. Smart investment in childcare and care systems in Africa requires context-specific and culturally appropriate local solutions driven by national stakeholders—including commitment by national governments to resource and build systems of public provision. These investments must be guided and matched by nationally led evidence generation to fill research gaps and contribute to a coordinated agenda on childcare. We propose four themes to build the foundation of a regional research agenda: (1) understanding the landscape of childcare coverage and demand; (2) unpacking ‘what works’ for whom over time; (3) building knowledge on implementation of scalable and locally adapted solutions and (4) answering macro-questions on policy, financing, systems and sustainability. Coordinated national-led investment in childcare is needed in the Africa region and beyond—however, this alone is not a silver bullet and must be part of a larger effort to address structural barriers and catalyse systematic change across sectors to promote women’s social and economic empowerment.