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Statements and speeches Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Time to Care and Support is Now!

United Nations Observance of the International Day of Care and Support

31 October 2023

Delivered by

Ilze Brands Kehris, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights




New York

Excellencies, delegates, colleagues and friends,

I am honoured to join this first observance of the International Day of Care and Support.

This is a ground-breaking moment. At last, we are recognizing the crucial roles care and support play in our lives, our society, and for our planet.

Everyone needs care and support from others. Care and support are the basis of our lives with dignity and full participation in society.

Women, including girls, young and older women, and women with disabilities, carry out the bulk of this work without recognition. Their disproportionate share of this unseen work hinders their equal participation in society.

At the same time, many people, including children, older persons and persons with disabilities, do not have access to quality care and support that respect their agency, autonomy and dignity.

Those who are facing multiple intersecting forms of discrimination, such as migrants, racial, ethnic and other minorities, and indigenous peoples, are left furthest behind, both as caregivers and receivers of care and support.

Current care and support systems do not contribute to the creation of sustainable and resilient societies and economies, and do not adequately protect the rights of the very people who are providing and receiving care and support.

Today is the day to build momentum to transform current care models and to establish care and support systems that respond to current and future generations. Human rights must be at the core of this transformation.

Building on the General Assembly resolution that established this important International Day, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution this month that clearly recognized the importance of human rights of paid and unpaid caregivers, and care and support recipients.

It also recognized the equal distribution of care and support work as a fundamental basis to achieve gender equality.

We must strive for establishing care and support systems that are gender-, disability-, and age-responsive and that fully respect the human rights of givers and receivers of care and support.

To realize these ambitions, we must recognize, reduce and redistribute unpaid care and support work, and reward paid care and support workers, while securing access to quality care and support by recipients, in a manner that promotes the enjoyment of human rights by all.

And we must ensure voices of paid care and support workers, unpaid carers, and recipients of care and support, in all their diversity, are integrated in decision-making.

This transformation is a key lever for sustainable development, gender equality, social justice and an inclusive society that leaves no one behind.

The time for change is NOW!