Jakarta (ANTARA) - Adaptive social protection programs and policies based on the identification of gender-based risk and vulnerability need to be developed, according to Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture Muhadjir Effendy.

"Several studies show that during the COVID-19 pandemic, women's burden of care increased and placed them in a more vulnerable situation as compared to men," Effendy remarked at the forum, titled "Empowering Equality: Advancing Care Economics and Social Protection," here on Monday.

He said that social protection from the government not only helps to reduce the poverty rate but also improves inequality and lowers stunting prevalence.

The government's commitment is proven by the allocated budget of Rp476 trillion (US$31.1 billion) for social protection in the 2023 state budget.

"However, there are still challenges in tackling inequality, including gender inequality," the minister stated.

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Based on data from the International Labor Organization (ILO), he remarked that only 30.6 percent of the world's population can access comprehensive social protection, and women's coverage is lower than that of men.

"Women have specific risks and vulnerabilities throughout their lives, such as childbirth and the workload of caregiving," he remarked.

According to Effendy, the high workload of caregiving, which is mostly unpaid, can hinder women's access to employment.

Meanwhile, he explained that in Indonesia, women's work participation rate is much lower than that of men.

Most of the employed women work in the informal sector and are predominantly in unpaid caregiving, such as housewives.

He emphasized that care economics has become increasingly important, as the number of elderly and the general population increases.

"This situation demands the development of policies and programs that can reduce the workload of caregiving experienced by women as well as erase barriers for working women," Effendy stated.

Meanwhile, ASEAN countries, including Indonesia, have agreed on a declaration on gender equality and family development that will be discussed by ASEAN heads of state at the 43rd ASEAN Summit in September 2023.

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Translator: Sean M, Kenzu
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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