Human Rights

HUMAN RIGHTS, CAREGIVING AND UNPAID WORK

The specifics of human rights principles are outlined in many laws, covenants, charters, declarations and vary slightly according to jurisdiction. A list of quotations from some of these charters is in the section on this site labelled  ‘laws”.

Here is a compiled list of such human rights. Starred are those with particular application to caregiving.

Over the centuries the list of  fundamental rights and freedoms has shifted and been enlarged..  Many courts look not just at the enumerated areas but at what it can be assumed is also intended, analogous grounds. For instance discrimination based on pregnancy may not be itemized itself but is often deemed analogous to discrimination on the basis of gender and is ‘read in’. The effect then is that discrimination  based on pregnancy is also prohibited.

 Nations share many of the same basic rights but some have expanded on them.   For instance, New Zealand identifies ‘family status’ in the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination but in the US that is not a category and neither is it is most of Australia.  In Canada the provinces differ on whether they identify family status as a prohibited ground for discrimination.  Similarly there is discussion in some countries of expanding the list to include banning discrimination on source of income, discrimination based on poverty.  These are ongoing discussions.

The rights globally are listed here grouped in three categories:

a. Rights of all people

b. Rights of care receivers and children

c..Rights of parents /caregivers

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RIGHTS OF ALL PEOPLE

freedom from discrimination based on income, wealth, property

freedom from discrimination  based on source of income

freedom from discrimination based on age

freedom from discrimination based on family status

            *the fact of being related by blood or marriage to

            others in the home should not disqualify a person from

            recognition of the value of their work there

freedom from discrimination based on gender, sex, sexual orientation

            *historically female roles are not lesser than historically male roles

freedom from discrimination based on language, dialect, accent

            * no person is subservient to another because of language

freedom from discrimination based on marital status

            * the fact of marriage should not disqualify a person from

            recognition of the value of their work in the home

freedom from  discrimination based on minority status

            *regardless of whether a person hires a stranger to provide

            care or provides it themselves, they have equal rights to

            any government funding available for caregivers

            * regardless of numbers in the population who provide care

            of their own family members, whether they are  the minority           

            or the majority, they deserve equal government funding

freedom from discrimination based on nationality, place of origin

            * no person is subservient to another because of nationality

freedom from discrimination based on physical or medical challenge

freedom from discrimination based on political opinion, belief, conviction

            * legal decisions about lifestyle, marriage, care of others are personal

            decisions akin to political and deserve no interference from the state

            to favor some options over others.

freedom from discrimination based on political status

freedom from discrimination based on race, color

            *no person is subservient to another because of race or color

freedom from discrimination based on religion

            *legal decisions about lifestyle, marriage and care of others

            are strongly held convictions akin to religious convictions and

            are protected rights the state cannot dictate or favor

freedom from discrimination due to pregnancy, breastfeeding

            *at the paid workplace employers must accommodate these functions

            in reasonable ways

            *those who are pregnant or breastfeeding are not obliged to do paid

            work during these intervals and have the right to societal recognition and dignity

            since these roles are part of vital care of the young

freedom of association

            *those who join labor unions as a condition of their paid work

            have the right to have their views on issues of caregiving

            specifically sought and voted on before being represented as

            their views

freedom of expression, free speech, freedom of the press

            * the views of unpaid caregivers have a right to be heard in any discussions

            of care of the young, sick, handicapped, frail elderly or dying

            * legislators have an obligation to consult the care sector when formulating

            laws that affect care

freedom of peaceful assembly

freedom of religion, freedom of worship

            *the legal  prayer, holiday, celebration, diet and calendar rituals of a religion

            must be respected and accommodated in society and since they vary widely

            it is not reasonable for the state to assume at any given setting only on religion

            represents the religion of all

freedom to form a family

            * freedom to choose who  you love, who you commit to in a mutual

            relationship of love and emotional support

freedom to free and full consent for marriage by intended spouses

freedom to travel, relocate, freedom of movement

            *the caregiver who relocates to provide care of another must be

            respected for the inherent sacrifice

            * the state recognizes and law enables such relocation when

            there is an urgent care need in the family and ensures such

            care is assisted financially in cases of need

right to a living wage, basic income

            *though the traditional care role in the home is unpaid,

            it is entitled to financial recognition and support provided

            either through income splitting or government support

            or both, to ensure that the caregiver has the financial means

            to be able to provide basic needed care

right to be considered innocent until proven guilty

            *the caregiver and those receiving care have the right to freely enter

            into their relationship, and to decide amongst each other what roles

            need to be filled and who will do them and how much. The state

            cannot rightfully assume that either gender is less competent at

            domestic, care or volunteer roles and must not create legislation to

            assume that citizens must be pressured to have a certain sharing

            of roles

right to be consulted in formation of laws that concern them

            *the care sector includes not just paid formal settings, daycares,

            nursing homes and institutions but also the home, and not

            just paid staff but family who provide care. All have the right

            to be consulted, all are stakeholders and all have expertise in their

            area when government is formulating laws that affect care. Having

            conferences, panels, and consultations that exclude or omit the unpaid

            care sector is a violation of this right.

right to be seen as a full person before the law

            * the caregiver has historically been seen as lesser, the wife of lower

            status than the husband and this is a historical unfairness that is

            addressed by the right stated here. Spouses have the right to

            their own name, to make statements of their own in a court of

            law, to vote and express opinions of their own and to enjoy all

            the other rights herein, without obligation to consult the spouse

            or implication that their views are those of others in the household

right to choice of employment

            *the full range of career and work options must include the caregiver

            role in the home, full or part  time, for months or years as the person

            desires, with full dignity. This role is to also be considered doing

            useful care work

right to dignity

            *the caregiver has the right to be counted in labor force statistics

            even if unpaid, as doing useful work in the economy

            * the caregiver has the right to be considered useful, productive,

            a contributor to wellbeing of society and to not be looked down

            on as unproductive, unemployed or not contributing

right to equal benefit under the law

            * any funding government provides for care of the young, sick,

            handicapped, frail elderly or dying, that is directed to care by

            a third party to the family must be equally available for the same

            type of care if provided by a family member

            * any government funding for costs of daycare, nursing home

            care, care of the disabled that flows to the 3rd party care institution

            or to the family as deductions or credits for using that care style

            must be paralleled with funding for care at home for those

            who prefer it

right to equal pay for equal work/ equal pay for work of equal value

            * the work of the paid caregiver must be consistent with the value

            of the tasks performed in other sectors so that care of a human

            is not of less value than care of an animal or a machine

            * the pay given by government funds to the caregiver in an institutional setting

            should be matched by similar financial recognition for the

            care role provided at home by a family member

            * the financial recognition of caregiving should be equal

            regardless of the gender or marital status of the caregiver

            -the financial recognition of caregiving should be equal

            regardless of the blood or marital relation of the caregiver

            to the care receiver – so that the task defines the pay, not

            the identity of the people involved.

right to equal treatment whether male or female

right to equality before the law

right to fair taxation

            * the taxation of those who provide care must not make the

            care role unaffordable and must give it dignity and ability

            to function

            * equally earning households, identically configured with  the same

            ability to pay tax, must pay the same tax as each other, regardless

            of who is doing the care role or how much it is shared between members

right to have birth registered

right to identity, name, nationality

right to just remuneration for work
            *all legal work performed to benefit others has a value in society

            and in the economy, even if it historically has been an unpaid

            role providing care of another. The caregiver may provide care

            out of love and not for money but if there is financial hardship so

            that the care cannot be provided for lack of money, the state has

            an obligation to ensure that funding the state provides to a third

            party outside the family could also be given to a  family member

            to do the care role

right to liberty, freedom

            * no caregiver should be forced to provide care and the care role

            should be voluntary. However the state ensures that the vulnerable are

            entitled to care so there are legal obligations for family members

            to ensure care is provided. They may provide it themselves, or

            through another family member or by hiring a third party.

right to life

right to motherhood

            * a parent takes on a vital role in society to create part of the

            next generation, to perpetuate the community and ensure the

            long term stability of the economy.  The decision to be a mother

            is voluntary. However those who make this decision take on an important

            commitment and are to be valued in dignity and in accommodations

            for their basic needs so they can perform this function

right to privacy

            * the caregiver has freedom to choose legal means to provide

            care depending on the needs of the one needing care and the

            skills of the one providing it. The caregiver is to be supported

            in the role and to have their judgment trusted unless there is

            evidence to prove they are not worthy of this trust.      

            They have the right to privacy in the home, without government

            surveillance, inspection or interference in daily functionning

            but are nonetheless subject to the legal requirements of ensuring

            the rights of the person needing care are met..

right to protection of the law

            * the caregiver is entitled to protection of their own rights

            and is also a protector of the rights of the one for whom they

            provide care, to ensure that person also enjoys the protection

            of the law

right to security, safety

right to social security

            * the care role is historically unpaid. However it is not a role of

            laziness or inactivity or selfishness and those who provide care

            of others are not objects of pity or charity. The right they have

            to social security ensures they are treated with dignity for what they

            do and is not a handout.

right to social support in times of illness, loss of paid job, old age

            * the caregiver is also subject to times of needing care

            themselves. They may not always be able to provide care of

            others. When they are not able to provide this care, they have

            equal rights with all other citizens to financial support for

            their medical costs, right to leisure, right to a pension

right to state protection for the family

            * the state’s role is to enable family members to be together

            where possible and not to focus on how to fund them

            preferentially if they are apart. The state should not

            encourage use of 3rd party care preferentially over

            care by family members and should remain neutral

            in decisions of who is the caregiver, funding the role

            itself. If the state is to show a bias, it is according

            to international conventions, to favor the family

            being the caregiver.

RIGHT OF CHILD / CARE RECEIVER

duty of child to respect parents and elders

            * the parent is the first tier of education, health care

            and the justice system in society. The  child should be

            trained to respect parents as first models of respect

            for societal laws and standards.

freedom from emotional or mental abuse and cruelty

            * the child is vulnerable and deserves special

            protection. The ones who are most attuned

            over time to the personality and needs of a given

            child are the parents. They should be assumed

            to be knowledgeable and must be consulted

            in any decisions based on their insights into the

            best interests of the child.

freedom from exploitation

            *the child is vulnerable to being easily used

            as a target for consumer purchases, as a cheap

            or unpaid worker, as an object of sexual exploitation

            and as an unknowing assumed advocate for

            issues about which the child knows little. The

            child has a right to protection from all these exploitations

            and the caregiver has an obligation to ensure that this

            right is met.  To do so does require that the caregiver

            be present much of the time, aware and able to monitor

            the wellbeing of the child. This does mean that supervision

            of a young child is an ongoing need and that adequate supervision

            of even an adolescent child is also vital to ensure the child’s

            enjoyment of this right..

freedom from fear

            * a key fear of the young is fear of abandonment. The elderly

            often fear they are forgotten. The fear of strangers and

            fear of not  having needs met are fears that those who need

            care should not have to deal with. The caregiver and the state

            have an obligation to ensure that the one needing care is secure

            in the continued affection and frequent presence of those who

            love them, and secure in the  knowledge their essential needs

            will be met. To ensure this right is met, caregivers are to be

            given adequate time and means to be able to provide this

            reassurance.

freedom from neglect

freedom from physical abuse and cruelty

freedom from poverty

            *child poverty and poverty of the elderly especially of elderly

            women and poverty of the handicapped, are all ongoing challenges

            all related to those who need care.  The status of needing care should

            not also be a reason for having to live below the poverty line. The

            state has an obligation to create a tax system where family

            can provide care of their own members to ensure there is no

            poverty and the state has a duty to subsidize this support in cases of

            need.

freedom of movement

            * people needing care often have fewer options about travel

            and movement, However they have a right to have input into 

            decisions about where they spend their time. The very young

            have a right to spend time with those whose company they

            enjoy and not to be forced to spend long time with strangers.

            The elderly have the right to be located in a setting or community

            near those they love to ensure ease of visiting so their  emotional

            support needs are met.. Seniors have a right to choose to

            age in their own home with necessary supports rather than moving

            to an institutional setting and government funding for care should

            follow the senior or handicapped person and not be conditional

            on location.

freedom of speech, expression commensurate with maturity of child

right to adequate financial security

right to adequate food, nutrition

right to adequate housing, shelter

right to an adequate standard of living

right to be raised in a family

            * most conventions of human rights recognize the need for

            permanent, dependable support from someone else,

            for practical and emotional needs of the vulnerable.  Though

            the state can provide emergency back up to meet some of those

            needs, most international conventions recognize that the family

            provides such support historically and effectively .  To let the

            family function and be the support network for its members reduces

            the cost to the state of funding professional level supports.

            The state therefore has an obligation both for citizen wellbeing

            but also for its own economic stability to ensure that the first

            level of support of citizens can function- and therefore the state

            has a duty to provide a tax system and financial supports that

            respect the family, however it is configured for individuals concerned.

right to be raised in a healthy and safe environment

right to be raised in a natural environment

            * the right of the vulnerable to contact with nature, plants,

            gardens, trees, fresh air not just in four walls and confined

            to buildings is outlined here. Where absence from nature

            is unavoidable, exposure to what benefits it may still provide

            such as sunshine, open windows, adequate humidity

            presence of flowers, plants, visits from pets, also

            are emotionally helpful to the vulnerable.

right to be raised in an atmosphere of happiness and understanding

right to care by parents

            * though any adult with skills can provide the technical role

            of care provider, to feed, clothe, dress, instruct the vulnerable,

            there is another element of care that is vital and that is positive

            emotional connection. The child has the right to care by someone

            who loves the child, is emotionally bonded to them and who has

            an instinctive desire to ensure the wellbeing of the child. The

            parent is historically someone with that level of commitment

            and most international conventions identify the parent as a key

            caregiver for the child. Where the parent is not available, another

            relative with a similar permanent love attachment such as grandparent

            or aunt, or even a trusted friend or long term hired caregiver such

            as a nanny may also have that love connection. However the paid

            stranger or series of strangers, changing every few months or years

            does not provide this emotional sense of security or bonding that

            is vital to a child so most international conventions do identify

            family-based care as preferred.

right to care in an atmosphere or love and affection

right to emotional security, protection from predators

right to equal and easy access to appropriate medical care in case of need

right to equal benefit under the law with other children

            *the states that have recognized the needs of children to

            care often have done so only to enable parents to have

            paid work. Funding directed only to parents with paid work

            as they use 3rd party care are common but when the funding

            flows only to children in that care setting, those children

            at home or in care of relatives are deprived of equal funding

            under the law. That inequality violates the right .

right to equal treatment with other children

            * children are very sensitive to inequality as they insist

            on sharing and equal benefit and equal privilege with each

            other.  The child of wealthy parents has an inherent advantage

            over the child of parents in poverty in terms of clothing,

            housing, entertainment and travel options. However the state has

            an obligation to itself treat all children equally, to fund them

            equally and show no favoritism.  It therefore has a duty to

            fund children in all care settings the same, whether they are at home

            or with sitters, nannies or at a daycare. If the state is to show any

            preferential funding in most nations it is to provide extra

            funds to the handicapped to enable them to rise to the

            same access rights of the other children and reap equal

            benefit. If the state does show any favoritism between children

            it has a duty to favor those most in need, to have extra

            funding based on household poverty. It is not fair under

            this principle for the state to simply favor some children

            based on location of care or lifestyle of parents.

right to free basic education

            * the historical right of all children to learn to read

            and write, to do math and learn basic skills has been

            expanded in most nations to the right to schooling to

            ages 16-17. This education is free, paid for by the state.     

            However the earliest education, even more basic

            than reading and writing, is learning to crawl, walk,

            use a cup, use a spoon, talk, share, take turns, and

            to get answers to the thousands of questions children

            ask.  The earliest education is historically provided in the home and

            by parents and relatives. That style of education adapts to the specific

            and unique developmental stages, interests, aptitudes, of each child

            and it is not possible to do it en masse, in large groups all at the

            same time.  Noticing this earliest education and its very intense

            and one -on-one demands, does create for the caregiver a need

            for significant time to devote to the role.  The duty of the state

            is to ensure that the caregiver has the time and financial means

            to provide this first level of education or to hire someone else

            to provide it one on one .  If the state funds only 3rd party

            care in large groups for the very youngest children it violates

            the right to optimal education at the earliest stages.

right to have child’s best interests the primacy consideration in decisions affecting

right to have decisions made in times of vulnerability by someone who loves child

right to have state protection to ensure these rights are met

right to identity and to know both parents unless there is risk of harm to the child

right to identity and to know personal and medical history

            * the child who is adopted, separated from birth parent or parents

            or from a home where there was parental separation or divorce has

            nonetheless the right to know who they were, to know about

            their personal and medical history in order for the child to fully

            know its own personal and medical history.

right to identity, a name, a nationality

right to know parents and family

right to learn the culture and legal values of the parents

            * the child’s identity is partly linked to the parents’ culture and

            what they wish to convey to the child about traditions and

            lessons and values that matter to them. If the state preferentially

            funds care away from parents, and does not equally fund

            care by parents or care in the same cultural milieus parents

            chose, it violates this right. Since most large group care of

            children cannot practically ensure all cultures and traditions,        

            diets and religions are simultaneously practiced, it is the

            duty of the state to ensure funding goes to parents so they

            can set up care plans that do meet their preferences for such

            instruction including care by parents in the home.

right to learn one’s language of birth, of parents, mother tongue

            * part of the child’s identity and ability to communicate

            with others depends on learning the language of those

            taking care of the child.  If the child is put into large

            group care where the caregiver’s language is not that of

            his parents, the child may not be able to enjoy the right

            of learning maternal tongue as quickly or easily. Though

            children are capable of learning several languages, and

            parents often do want their young to learn the language

            of the dominant culture of the community so they can

            get jobs and thrive, the state has an obligation to not

            preferentially fund only being away from the mother

            tongue instruction. Parents have the right to freely choose

            which languages to teach the child and when.

right to love and understanding

right to medical services, necessary medical care

right to not be forced to earn money

            * The state has an obligation to ensure children have a  right

            to education and to play and to childhood, free of financial

            obligations. Ensuring this right however does require that the

            state set up a tax system where parenting receives some financial

            assistance since having children reduces ability to pay tax.

            In households where older children and teens are taught lifeskills

            such as on the family farm or in the family business, their work

            there may be remunerated by the family in money or in

            possessions but the child must not be forced to do work in

            order to be able to benefit from the other rights such as to food

            and housing and security. The child’s right to an education

            must not be violated or put at risk even if the older teen has

            a part -time paid job.

right to not be separated from parents against their will, except if court  rules

            such separation is in the child’s best interests

right to opportunity for physical, mental, spiritual, moral, social development

right to parental guidance

right to play, recreation, leisure

right to privacy commensurate with maturity of child

            * the need to feed, clothe and keep clean the young child makes

            it impractical to speak of full rights of privacy of the child. However

            the child at any age has the right to dignity, to no sexual interference

            and to free expression of likes and dislikes, to have an opinion

            about what toys to play with or foods to eat.  The child has the

            right to personal possessions and to learn how to share. The older

            child and teen have growing rights to privacy of their personal

            body except in medical distress where they may need medical help,

            and the right to privacy of their belongings diaries, living space

            and activities but parents have the right and duty to ensure the

            child is protected from harm.  This means that the parents have the

            right and duty to know who the child is associating with, where they

            are, what the are doing and to monitor and on some

            occasions restrict their activities. The parent has a right

            and duty to ensure that the child is protected from exploitatiou

            or exposure to drugs or gang membership or underage drinking

            that may cause the child harm.

right to protection,  physical safety, security

right to respect and no attacks on honor

right to security and safety supervised by responsible adult at all times in early years

right to social security and social assistance

            * the child has the right to feel no worries about getting adequate food

            or clothing or housing to survive. The child has the right to security

            emotionally to always feel loved and protected so they can play and

            learn freely. The child has the right to the family’s funding to enable

            this security and the state has a duty to ensure a fair tax system so that

            the family can provide it.  In cases of financial distress the state has

            an obligation to provide additional financial help to the very poor

            but this also should be at the discretion of parents about how best

            to spend it. Requiring parents to use the money only on inspected

            receipted purchases is a violation of trust of parents and an invasion

            of privacy. If governments address problems of severe poverty of

            children by funding 3rd party daycare for them having the funds

            directed without parental option for care choice, deprives the child

            of the right to parental care, a right which should not be denied

            simply due to poverty.  The state has a duty to help the poor but

            not to force on them certain lifestyles.

right to special state protection in case of deprivation of family environment

right to state help to find alternate family care if child is parentless of deprived of family

right to state taking all necessary means to trace and reunite child with parent or relative

RIGHT OF PARENT / CAREGIVER

duty to ensure best interests of child

duty to ensure child can enjoy its rights

duty to provide guidance and direction of child

equal responsibility of both parents for the upbringing of the child

            * since all children have two parents by birth,

            those parents have a right to know this offspring

            and the child has a right to know them.

            The decision of who takes care of the child is one that

            can be made between the two parents and if they

            disagree, by the courts, recognizing the legal right

            of each parent to be part of the life of the child.

            Historically the parents both have obligations to

            ensure the wellbeing of the child and this wellbeing

            is not solely dependent on money. Someone also has to

            provide the hands on care of the child and the supervision

            much of which care is historically unpaid. The idea that

            both parents have an obligation to support the  child

            is not solely therefore about each providing money for

            the contribution of one of them may be work in kind,

            not cash.  but the care role itself.  The decision

            of financial support of the child must also value

            equally the emotional and practical care of the child

            as its share, equivalent to money.

equal rights of both parents to decide about care of children

freedom to choose how to raise children, values, culture, religion

freedom to form a family

            * given the needs of children for affection and the

            rights of the child to be raised in an atmosphere

            of stability and love and family, the parent has a right

            to set up this family and to being an ongoing presence

            in the life of the child.  The state has an obligation

            to  respect this right and to enable family members

            to have time together, and to not preferentially fund

            and therefore favor care of family members only if

            they are apart. The state has an obligation to fund

            children wherever they are if it funds any, and

            to if it does provide preferential funding for

            any care style, should favor care by a family member,

            consistent with the rights above..

responsibility for upbringing and development of child

right of parents to state assistance as they meet their childrearing responsibilities

right to choose how children will be cared for among legal options

            * parents who have enjoyed and insisted on the right

            to have a child or to use birth control and not have a child,

            the right to choice about abortion, the right to choice about

            raising the child or putting it up for adoption, the right to

            adopt or foster a child, do not have any right to abandon

            a child. The rights are limited by obligations also.  However

            parents have the right to choose who takes care of the child,

            the identity of the caregiver, and to ensure the care is

            with the language, values, religion, discipline and

            other style they approve of. They have the right to provide

            care of the child themselves, or to enlist help of

            another family member or friend or to pay a third party

            to provide the care, a babysitter, nanny, daycare worker.

            The range of choices should be wide and the duty of the state

            is not to show favoritism for any of those options but to

            equally fund them so parents have free choice as

            befits their needs, the needs of the child and their

            current circumstances. 

right to be considered innocent until proven guilty

            * the parent is under legal obligation to provide the necessities of life

            for the child, to adequately supervise and protect and to ensure

            the child’s basic rights are met. The parent is under scrutiny and

            at risk of losing custody of the child or access to the child or

            even to face criminal charges should the parent be derelict in

            meeting these responsibilities. The parent therefore is already

            subject to the law and it is not reasonable to assume that the

            parent is likely to offend or not trustworthy by definition.  When government

            funds birth bonuses, child  credits or dependent deductions, family

            allowance or creates other tax measures such as household base tax

            it has the duty to trust parents in how they will use this funding, much

            the same as an employer does not monitor how an employee spends

            salary.  Any state policy that funds only professional caregivers

            and mistrusts parents as if the care the provide is not regulated

            or standardized and therefore cannot be easily monitored, fails to

            ensure the right to being trusted, and fails to recognize the   

            ways that parents already are under significant legal obligation.

            Funding that flows to the parent and follows wherever the

            child is is fair use of this right while government funding only

            to one care style- daycare – is not. right to material assistance from the state for             housing, clothing, food for child in need

right to respect from the state for the responsibilities and duties of parenting

———————-

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