Gender Equality and Early Childhood Care in Peru: Two Sides, One Sustainable Development Model
More than half of Peruvian women work outside of the home, yet household duties, especially those involving the care of children, is predominantly the responsibility of this gender. In this context, it is not uncommon for women to opt out of work, pay another impoverished woman to care for their children, relegate the care of children to another child, or simply leave them unattended. Such a situation has great bearing on the persistence of gender inequality, which has important—and simultaneous—repercussions on women’s social, economic and political progress, children’s well-being, and the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly number 5, regarding gender equality.
Recognizing the positive relationship between universal access to early childhood care, education, and the promotion of gender equality—particularly in developing countries—we share our research findings on early childhood care and education programs in Peru, demonstrating that the state could cover up to 100 percent of the demand for childcare services through a limited investment. As in other countries of Latin America and other parts of the developing world, a common argument used against expanding social programs is based on scarce resources. We argue in this paper that early childhood care and education expansion are both fiscally possible and politically necessary to ensuring the full inclusion of women and girls, a key commitment of the SDG goals.