The G7 Labour and Employment Ministers responded to the W7’s request about the need to enhance the quality of care works

NEWS 04.28.2023

The G7 Kurashiki Labor and Employment Ministerial Meeting was held in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, on April 22-23, 2023, and Chie Matsumoto, W7 Advisor, gave an input on investing in the care industry and creating decent work opportunities for women.

Giving the presentation around the care workers in Japan, Chie representing W7 called on G7 leaders to following three demands:

  1. ratification and enforcement of ILO conventions on freedom of association, collective bargaining and sexual harassment in the workplace,
  2. ensuring public funding of universally accessible, adequate and gender-sensitive policies (such as parental leave and other social protection schemes), particularly for women in the informal sector by implementing progressive national and international tax regimes, and
  3. cancellation of the sovereign debt of previously colonised countries owed to bilateral, private and multilateral lenders, for decolonising international economic and political systems and heading to true gender equality.

Therefore, W7 welcomes the Kurashiki Ministerial Declaration which recognizes the need to enhance the quality of care works, and states their commitments to reducing all barriers to decent work by ensuring that policy frameworks are in place and investment in the care economy, as mentioned on paragraph 9, 17, 21 and 26.

“9. […] On the whole, the pandemic disproportionately negatively affected people across G7 economies based on gender, age, education and income levels, racial or ethnic origin, disability and migration status, sexual orientation or gender identity, and other factors. Women who took on the major burden of unpaid care work have particularly suffered from the pandemic, including career setbacks in some cases due to the COVID-19 containment policies. This has often led to a standstill and partial inversion in the development of female labour market participation, wages and job quality as well as negative effects on their pensions and balanced representation. In this context, and respecting the role of the social partners, we are committed to promoting appropriate improvements in working conditions, including real wage growth in line with productivity growth, the improvement of working environments for all, and providing adequate support for those with care responsibilities. We will continue to invest in the care economy to alleviate the burden of unpaid care work, ensure decent work and improve working conditions for those who perform paid care work.

“17. […] In addition, we stress the importance of long-term care leave and access to inclusive and quality care options as well as addressing social norms that underpin women’s disproportionate burden of unpaid care work.”

“21. Reducing inequality: We recognize the negative impact of inequalities in our labour markets, economies, and societies. The pandemic has deepened inequalities between certain groups, and the current high levels of food and energy prices accelerated by the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine have placed additional stress on the most at-risk in many countries. Decent work, particularly for those most at-risk, is essential to addressing inequalities and increasing work engagement. We reiterate our commitment to reducing all barriers to decent work by ensuring that policy frameworks are in place to combat all forms of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation, and by implementing policies and programs that support equal participation in the workforce by under-represented populations.

“26. Promoting high quality care-related jobs: Care work is essential for human well-being and sustainable economic growth but remains under-recognized and undervalued. Care-related jobs, which were at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic, are often characterised by poor working conditions including low wages, which results in a shortage of care workers in many countries. As women make up a large share of the care workforce, the low pay and poor working conditions that characterize the sector are factors that can contribute to labour market gender inequality. It is necessary to enhance the quality of care jobs by improving working conditions such as wages, health and safety including prevention of long working hours, career progression and development, access to social protection, professionalization, skill development, and credentialing.”

We are also pleased to see that paragraph 18 speaking about the ways of accelerating gender equality and “securing the labour rights of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining is the foundation of decent work” is emphasized on the paragraph 27.

We look forward to these commitments to be reflected in the G7 Leaders communique and to be well implemented.


Satoko Yamaguchi and Chie Matsumoto, W7 Representatives to the Labour & Employment Ministerial Meeting