Domestic and care work covers the basic sustenance, well-being and reproductive activities of life, as well as the production of essential features for their maintenance (food, clothes, hygiene and so on). It is everyday work, without which life could not continue.

All these tasks have been traditionally carried out by women, practically on their own, and have not been valued socially or economically. Although men have been taking part more and more in such work, the proportion of their contribution at present is still much lower than that of women. 

Care work is usually invisible and the tasks it involves are relegated to the area of household work, where they may be ignored or under-valued. This lack of recognition poses an obstacle to its distribution and to it being dignified as work, and any attention to the living conditions of the people performing it.

Women are generally more used to talking about the issues that concern them than men are. One of the reasons may have to do with the fact that asking for help is still considered, even today, to be ‘unmasculine’. In addition, women relate to one another more in local networks, such as their neighbourhood, which enables them to share their emotions and needs.

Unpaid care work in 21st-century Barcelona still falls mainly to women. So, as it is not distributed between members of a household or sufficiently assisted by public institutions, it very often becomes an overload and causes inequalities.

Many households outsource cleaning and care work, carried out mainly by women, usually immigrants, and often on a precarious basis. This has resulted over the last few decades in what is known as global care chains: these immigrant women have left their dependent family members in their countries of origin, frequently under the care of other women too, to come here and work assisting other people.