Home Gran Canaria Gran Canaria.- La igualdad, un reto permanente’ por Antonio Morales

Gran Canaria.- La igualdad, un reto permanente’ por Antonio Morales


The mobilization of women and feminist organizations has turned the fight for gender equality into a clamor in our society. Fortunately, awareness and transformation actions are growing but, at the same time, unbearable data on the murders of women and discrimination in all areas of society that we cannot tolerate continue. For this reason, March 8, 2020 once again becomes a call for struggle, vindication and commitment of all people with dignity and convictions.

There are four issues that will probably mark public management in the coming years and even in the coming decades: the ecological transition to face the climate emergency, the management of migrations (which are expected to increase), the fight against economic inequality and equality between men and women, with the integration of the gender perspective in all dimensions of life. All these issues share common traits: they affect in one way or another the citizenry as a whole, they are transversal and global -they cannot be addressed through sectoral policies or exclusively at the state level-, they are interrelated, concern all public institutions and are fundamental to achieve the welfare of the people.

Like every March 8, it’s time to focus on equality and women’s rights. In recent years, in Spain and the Canary Islands, we have witnessed an unprecedented rise in the feminist movement and its demands for equality, which has promoted a series of positive changes both in society and in public policies. Today no one, except the extreme right, discusses positive discrimination policies, the content of the equality law, the need to continue advancing in the fight against gender violence or the reform of the penal code to fight against sexual violence.

But the challenge we face goes much further. This week there were some conferences organized jointly by the Cabildo de Gran Canaria and the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria City Council, which were entitled «The island of care» and I think that this is one of the issues that can help us the most to to get an idea of ​​the dimension of the structural changes that lie ahead. The feminist political thinker Carole Pateman explained to us that if the social contract that constitutes modern society was possible, it was thanks to another contract, the sexual one, which established structural inequality through a specialization of work that relegated women to so-called reproductive jobs. or care (maintenance of the home, cooking, care of minors and the elderly, etc.

This division of labor institutionalized inequality of income, wealth, public recognition, etc. and it was permeating all spheres of public life, since the gender perspective was excluded from the configuration of public institutions, political power or laws, to give a few examples. The economy itself has developed excluding half the population by not counting the economic value of domestic work. The magazine “Alternativas económicas” dedicated a special to this issue last year and the data it showed was eloquent: in Spain, the majority of women spend an average of 130 million hours a year in unpaid care work. There are 16 million people working eight hours a day for free, which would be equivalent to more than 15% of Spanish GDP.

The dedication of women to unpaid care work is the main obstacle they encounter in accessing the labor market. 42% of inactive women are inactive because they have to dedicate themselves to this type of work and 75% of part-time jobs (worse paid than full-time jobs) are occupied by them. We therefore see that this issue is one of the main causes of economic and social inequality for women. In addition, this inequality is perpetuated, becomes chronic and reaches the elderly, since the lack of incorporation into the labor market translates into lower and non-contributory pensions.

The same article warned that we are entering a true «care crisis», since the needs for this type of work will increase throughout the world. In Spain, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics, the dependency rate (quotient between the population under 16 years of age or over 64 and the population between 16 and 64 years of age) will rise from the current 54.2% to 62 .4% in 2033, and will reach 75.8% in 2068. And, meanwhile, women’s access to the labor market, the lack of male co-responsibility, the new family models or the cuts in the Welfare State are making it difficult the provision of these needs.

During the expansion stage of the Spanish economy in the second half of the 1990s and early 2000s, it was immigrant workers in very precarious conditions who took on these tasks. It is the phenomenon of internal caregivers, who live with the same family or person they care for, for salaries in many cases of misery and with an excessive workload not subject to any regulation or inspection. But it certainly does not seem that placing the burden of this task on women from southern countries in unacceptable working conditions is a sustainable, progressive or feminist solution.

As I explained at the beginning of the article, it is a complex, global problem that is going to increase and that does not have simple solutions. We need a new social organization of care, as well as guaranteeing the recognition of unpaid work and its contribution to the well-being of families and the economic development of countries, and for this it is essential to promote its inclusion in national accounts. But we cannot ignore the imperative need to expand and strengthen the Welfare State, developing and adequately financing the dependency law, setting up a public network of nursery schools from 0 to 3 years of age, providing ourselves with sufficient social and health places, advancing in reconciliation, etc.

For the Cabildo de Gran Canaria these policies are a priority. Last term we approved a socio-sanitary plan with 1,440 places for the elderly and dependents that we have already begun to execute. We will apply all the measures contained in the Dependency Law that are within our competence and we will facilitate, in collaboration with the town halls, that dependent people can remain in their homes if they wish, making the necessary improvements and adaptations in the home. We will also consolidate the network of residential centers for the elderly and dependent people, as a network centered on the person and with public control. Of course, gender equality is a transversal commitment that must permeate all the policies of the institution, without forgetting awareness and education,
A society that marginalizes more than half of its population will never be a sustainable society. It is the same neoliberal capitalism that is destroying the planet and causing a global increase in temperature, putting human life at risk, which needs the exploitation of women in the private sphere in order to sustain itself. For the economic and ecological transition that we need to be done in a socially just way, it has to be imbued with the contributions of feminist economics and the movement as a whole. Ecology and feminism represent the two most powerful tools we have to build a new economic model that is more sustainable, economically and socially just and that puts people’s lives and well-being at the center.

Antonio Morales Méndez
President of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria

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