Before COVID-19, Argentina faced challenges regarding their lack of an early childhood care system. Access to quality care services was insufficient, with significant differences depending on where a child was born, the labour conditions of their parents, and their income level. The pandemic deepened these pre-existing social and economic inequalities and highlighted the care crisis.
Placing care policies at the centre of recovery plans was crucial to breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty, ensuring the exercise of children's rights, improving the quality of life of society as a whole, and providing the State with more effective tools to bridge gender gaps.
The early childhood and sustainable development joint programme supported the Argentine Government in implementing the National Early Childhood Strategy (ENPI in Spanish), which focused on strengthening childcare services at national and sub-national levels and reducing the inequality gaps among the 5.2 million children, of which 2.7 million live in vulnerable communities. The programme supported increasing the investment for the ENPI and identifying consolidated investment gaps at national and provincial levels.
The flexibility of the UN Resident Coordinator, with the leadership of UNICEF, ECLAC, UNDP and ILO, has been instrumental in allowing the programme to adapt to changing needs amidst the pandemic, reorient resources and redesign activities while maintaining the original goal: to contribute to the design and implementation of comprehensive early childhood care policies with a gender perspective.