Are Women Being Sent Back to the Home?


Send women back to the home. This is apparently what the present policies for a way out of the crisis are trying to do. These policies have a clear ideological orientation, both economically and socially.

 

To the extent that they are cutting basic public services, such as health and education, various social benefits, and all kinds of care work that fall, for the most part, on women. The frontal attack against a welfare state as well as the transfer of the cost of the crisis to the popular sectors, lands on women’s backs.

 

Unpaid Domestic Work

 

It is not for nothing that the capitalist system is perpetuated to a considerable extent by the unpaid domestic work that women, do, mainly in the home and which capitalism needs in order to survive.

 

In Spain, after scarcely coming to power, the People’s Party (PP) government announced a reduction of €283 million in an already very anemic Dependency Law, putting it on the verge of disappearing. This is a measure which, in addition to leaving some 250,000 people without help and making it almost impossible to provide care to new beneficiaries, has increased pressure on women. The care that is already no longer provided by the public administration falls back into the private domain, in the home, and particularly on the mothers and daughters of dependent people.

 

If we analyze the figures concerning inactive persons for 2010, 96.4 percent of those who stated that they were not seeking employment for family reasons (parenting, caring for sick adults, people with disabilities, etc.) were women. And insofar as they have children, their rate of employment decreases. Without children, women’s employment rate stood at 77 percent, while for women with children it was 52 percent. On the other hand, the male employment rate was not affected—and even increased in the case of men with children. Conclusion: the articulation between waged working life and private life is achieved through exclusion from employment, precarious work and/or a frantic and untenable rhythm of life for many women.

 

Other measures taken by the government—such as the freezing of pensions—also have very negative consequences for us. A greater presence in the informal economy and very often an intermittent working life—because of care of dependents—make it difficult to achieve the minimum number of annuities to qualify for a pension.

 

Low Pay, Devalued Jobs

 

Women hold the bulk of poorly paid and socially devalued jobs. Out of all part-time contracts, 77.6 percent are held by women. And the precariousness of employment is even further encouraged by the latest reform of the labor laws, making it more difficult to ensure our autonomy. Thus, it is important to note that both sexes are not on an equal footing in the labor market. Women earn on average nearly 22 percent less per year than male colleagues, according to the latest Annual Survey on Salary Structure, published in 2009. This discrimination increases with the level of education.

 

Reproductive Rights

 

In addition to these cuts in our social and labor rights, we must confront a growing reactionary offensive against our reproductive rights. The proposed reform by the PP of the Abortion Law, which wants to limit the cases concerned in having an abortion, and pushes us back several years. They do not want us to have the right to decide about our own bodies and our lives, bringing the threat of criminal punishment in the case of abortion.

 

Violence Against Women

 

On November 25, we claimed a day against sexist violence in order to make visible violence against women that is daily and persistent, and which is becoming sharper in the current context of the economic crisis. In the second quarter of 2012, complaints of male violence increased by 5.9 percent, compared with the first 3 months of the year. And women who suffer from these situations are less and less helped and supported because of reductions in public resources.

 

The current crisis seeks to send us back to the home and to make us cataloged by gender in a retrograde fashion. This is a full-scale offensive against our economic and reproductive rights. But we are not going to take it lying down. Women sent back to the home? Not even in your dreams. 

Z


Esther Vivas is an activist in social movements in Barcelona. She has also participated in anti-globalization campaigns.