by Ana Pérez
Reconciliation and equality policies are key to guarantee co-responsibility in care work and housework. This is one of the conclusions of the course on new family forms and new values, recently organized by UNAF, the Union of Family Associations in Spain, as part of the Summer Courses of the Complutense University of Madrid.
In recent years, families have been evolving from the traditional male breadwinner model into the dual-earner model or a single-earner model. Families are now more diverse. However, the lack of child and elderly care services, flexible working arrangements and the perpetuation of gender stereotypes create inequalities between men and women, and make it more difficult for some families, for example single-parent families or recomposed families.
Men and women should have the opportunity to be carers and earners in equal measure to help families relieve the tension between their professional and family lives. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and thus, a dedicated public policy is needed to help families reconcile work and family life. These reconciliation measures should be complemented with equality policies, to avoid women carrying most of the burden. This is the case for parental leave or leaves to care for a family member, which are mostly taken by women.
According to a recent survey on reconciling work and family in Spain, 91.9% of women do housework and take care of children, elderly and dependent family members, spending 4h29 a day. This is compared to 74.7 % of men, who spend an average of 2h32.
In order to balance this situation, it is important to put in place measures that support women in accessing and staying in employment and encourage men to take a higher share of the family and care responsibilities. This is exactly what COFACE highlights in its European Reconciliation Package.
The European Reconciliation Package presents recommendations of what needs to be done at EU and national level to contribute to gender and pay equality, increased employment, improved childcare and care infrastructure and better wellbeing overall. It is available in English, French, Spanish and Italian.