Spain approves plan to support working mothers

"It is a feminist public policy" said Spain's Equality Minister Irene Montero of Unidas-Podemos. [EFE/Ángel Díaz]

The Spanish government has approved the first phase of a €200-million plan aimed at helping working mothers reconcile employment and family commitments, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reports.

The initial phase of the plan, known as “Corresponsables” (co-responsibles), was approved on Tuesday (9 March) by the Council of Ministers in Madrid and is likely to receive final approval in April.

The government coalition of the socialist PSOE and leftist United We Can (Unidas Podemos) announced the plan last year in a bid to improve the situation for working women who cannot find alternative child care arrangements, a problem which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. 

Sources in Spain’s equality ministry have deemed the programme’s budget “modest,” but see it as an important step in protecting vulnerable families, especially as it provides childcare services for under-14s.

Priority to vulnerable sectors

The project will be implemented through the creation of professional care exchanges, the promotion of quality employment and by implementing a professional skills accreditation system.

Women wishing to access the plan must meet certain criteria, including income level and family situation. Priority will also be given to victims of gender violence, the long-term unemployed, over-45s, and those with additional care responsibilities.

“It is a feminist public policy and a first step to guaranteeing the right to care and to [make] the state … co-responsible for the first time for the conciliation of families”, said Spain’s Equality Minister Irene Montero of Unidas-Podemos.

Juggling remote working with childcare 

Many working mothers in Spain have been plunged further into precarious positions in the past year amid the economic fallout from lockdowns.

“They fired me while I was on leave without worrying about my situation”, mother-of-two Cleo Pérez who had been working in sales in the southern city of Seville, told daily newspaper 20 Minutos.

The situation for working mothers is above all exacerbated when they are not permitted to work remotely to juggle childcare responsibilities.

An estimated 22% of Spanish mothers in jobs before the pandemic were forced to give up part or all of their employment in 2020 to take care of their children, according to recent data released by the Club de Malasmadres (club of “bad mothers”) womens’ rights group.

Of those surveyed, 37% were denied the option of teleworking despite being able to carry out their duties remotely. 

“Mothers are absolutely overwhelmed and without support, and they are bearing the cost of the pandemic”, a Club de Malasmadres spokesperson said.

[Edited by Daniel Eck, Paula Kenny and Josie Le Blond]

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