2019 Women & Girls Fund Annual Meeting - The Care Economy

The consequences of undervaluing care work and policy strategies for improving the lives of care workers were the focus of an in-depth panel discussion hosted by the Community Fund for Women & Girls on June 20 at its 2019 Annual Meeting.

Panelists (l-r): Miriam Gohara; Natalícia Tracy; Elyse Shaw and Jessica Sager. Photo credit: Dawn Santiago

Millions of women work long hours as personal care assistants, home health aides, pre-school teachers and other jobs that primarily involve caring for the needs of the elderly, children and people with health needs. For large numbers, particularly women of color, their earnings are so low that they and their families live in poverty. Women also provide a majority of the unpaid work caring for sick or impaired loved-ones and family members.

The consequences of undervaluing care work and policy strategies for improving the lives of care workers were the focus of an in-depth panel discussion, "The Care Economy: Women, Wealth and Work," hosted by the Community Fund for Women & Girls on June 20 at its 2019 Annual Meeting.

The panel was moderated by Miriam Gohara (Yale Law School) and panelists included Natalícia Tracy (Brazilian Worker Center), Elyse Shaw (Institute for Women's Policy Research) and Jessica Sager (All Our Kin).

During the meeting, Chair Karen Peart announced the 2019 grant awards to nonprofit partner organizations.

What We Heard

Care work is undervalued

"The average earnings of parking lot attendants is higher than childcare workers. We pay more to those who watch our cars than to those who watch our children." Elyse Shaw

The demand for care work is growing

"With 10,000 people a day turning 65, care needs are only going to increase in this country." Miriam Gohara

The lack of benefits accelerates the wealth gap

"Benefits help you save and plan and make your earnings go farther. If you are earning low wages and have no health insurance or other benefits, your savings are eaten up." Shaw

Care work is vital to families and the economy

"Every childcare provider allows four to five parents to enter and remain in the workforce." Jessica Sager

Care work needs basic labor protections

"We need to recognize that this is real work. We need to make sure that labor standards are recognized. We need a bill of rights." Natalícia Tracy

What We Can Do

Support policy changes

Connecticut has strengthened worker protections with the recent passage of an increased minimum wage, paid family leave, and paid sick leave. Panelists advocated for further changes, such as universal childcare for all children ages 0-5 and adding a caregiving credit to social security calculations for people who leave the workforce to care for a loved one without pay.

Value care work

Pay care workers a living wage and work with organizations or agencies that provide benefits to their workers.

Support the Fund for Women & Girls


Photo Gallery

Addtional Resources

Read The Foundation Info Brief: "The Care Economy: Women Wealth and Work."


Miriam Gohara is a Clinical Associate Professor of Law at Yale Law School who teaches and writes about capital and non-capital sentencing, incarceration, and the historical and social forces implicated in culpability and punishment. Before joining the Yale Law School faculty, Professor Gohara spent sixteen years representing death sentenced clients in post-conviction litigation. She has litigated cases in state and federal courts around the United States, including the United States Supreme Court. Ms. Gohara is a member of the board of trustees of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Columbia University.

Natalicia Tracy, Ph.D. (Boston University, Sociology, 2016) writes and teaches about race, power, and immigration in the US, in Sociology, Labor Studies, and Human Services at UMass Boston. Executive Director of Boston's Brazilian Worker Center since 2010, she has worked on supporting members of the immigrant community in fighting exclusion and marginalization, especially in economic life. She was co-founder of the Massachusetts Coalition for Domestic Workers, active in passing the 2014 MA Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, and in 2015 to winning some rights for domestic workers in Connecticut. She is the co author of "Invisible No More: Organizing Domestic Workers in Massachusetts and Beyond" (2014) and other works advancing workers' rights.

Elyse Shaw is a Study Director at Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) and directs IWPR's projects on the Status of Women in the United States, women's political participation, and those related to women and girls of color, which examines the intersectional nature of race and gender on women's lives. She also works extensively on workforce development and job training initiatives and contributes to IWPR's research on global women's issues, including providing technical assistance to the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization on the establishment of a gender policy institute in Palestine. Elyse received her Masters of International Relations from American University's School of International Service and was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Bryn Mawr College.

Jessica Sager is the co-founder and CEO of All Our Kin, a nationally-recognized nonprofit that trains, supports and sustains family child care providers to ensure that children and families have the foundation they need to succeed in school and in life. All Our Kin's network of caregivers has been proven to provide high-quality infant and toddler care to working parents in low and middle-income communities. A graduate of Barnard College and Yale Law School, Jessica co-teaches a Yale University seminar on "Child Care, Society, and Public Policy," and is a trustee of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund. She is a Ms. Foundation Public Voices Fellow, and has provided commentary on child care issues for Time, The Hill, New America, and Education Week.