3 February 2021

Budget and Recovery Plan: not a recovery for women

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"Woman is the other in relation to man. Man is the other than woman. Equality is an ideological attempt to enslave woman to higher levels.".

Carla Lonzi, Carla Accardi, Elvira Banotti Women's Revolt Manifesto - Rome 1970.


Merciless figures for female employment: at December Istat records a decrease in the number of jobs of 0.4% compared to November, 101,000 fewer employed people. Of those 101,000, 99,000 are women (the 98%). and 2,000 men. On an annual basis, 444,000 jobs were lost, and 312,000 new unemployed are women. A débâcle unprecedented against which the measures provided for in the budgetary law 2021 prove to be largely insufficient. So-called 'equality' is pure ideology.

Among the measures, the establishment of a fund to promote the equal pay (EUR 2 million per year from 2022); a fendowment fund for female entrepreneurship (€20 million per year for 2021 and 2022) and a fund against discrimination and gender-based violence (EUR 2 million per year from 2021 to 2023) for third sector associations for actions to promote women's freedom and social inclusion.on discrimination based on 'sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability'. In other words, the very serious symbolic and political mistake of the Zan bill against homobi-transphobia is repeated. which does not indicate women as the abundant half of the human race but as the one of the disadvantaged minorities. The following are also planned social security reductions for the employment of women who have been unemployed for more than six months. In any case it is very low figures when compared to the total of the manoeuvre, which amounts to almost EUR 40 billion.

If we look instead at the latest draft of the Recovery Plan o National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRP) approved on 12 January by the Council of Ministers (draft in all likelihood far from final) women, young people and the South are the three cross-cutting priorities, but There is no clear indication of the objectives envisaged and the instruments to achieve them. In particular, women's policies would be included in the 'inclusion and cohesion' strategic axis to which €17.2 billion are allocated, divided between labour policies (€5.85 billion); social infrastructure, families, communities and the third sector (€7.15 billion); and special interventions for territorial cohesion (€4.19 billion).

The main measures aimed at women would be geared towards encouraging female employment through active labour policies, tax decontribution and investment in sectors where female workers are the majority (care, culture, tourism). In addition, 400 million euros have been earmarked for female entrepreneurship. 

This plan is also very general and - apart from the amount earmarked for women's entrepreneurship - the allocation of specific resources is unclear. for women in employment policies as well, as stated in the Fiorella Kostoris on Sole 24 Oretalking about "disappearance of gender equality"and requesting that each Mission and each Component of the NRP indicate the precise funds allocated for women's policies together with a gender impact assessment with ex-ante and ex-post verification.

But even if women are mentioned as a priority in the plan, The presence, the gaze and the radicality of female difference are completely missing, designed and treated as marginalisation to be included 'equally', thus repeating the logic of exclusion.

For sectors such as the "Green' and 'Digital - to which most of the plan's resources are allocated - there is a very strong male presence to the detriment of women's in terms of both capital and labour force, and this although the so-called 'circular economy' is based on women's talent not to waste, and many women's enterprises have been set up in this area. If you think about it, they are the logic of the household economy going around the worldThis is what we have always known how to do. Women's enterprise is also this, bringing the logic of home into the world, bringing it into the public space from which it has been ousted to confine it to the private sphere. E bringing the economy back home, into the oikos, wrest it away from financialisation without ceiling or law. But in the Plan, Green remains above all the business of men.

In order to make the problem clear, gender impact assessment could be a first step, as long as it is not reduced to a technical exercise for its own sake - and to additional monitoring bodies - and can have an immediate impact in terms of policies and outcomes for girls and women. But it is certainly not the main way forward.

Last 23 January, Right Half organised a flash mob with the slogan ".It's not enough!" to point out that the plan's provisions are not sufficient for women and to call for more funds for crèches, care services for dependent persons and maternity protection for self-employed women. The initiative builds on the petition "Half of it"by Alexandra Geese, Green MEP and Head of Gender Budgeting in the European Parliament's Budget Committee which calls for half of the Next Generation EU funds to be dedicated to women. This initiative is in many ways effective in terms of the response of institutions and some policy areas: many women and professionals are engaged in a concentrated and "vertical" way on the plan and on the use of the Ricovery Plan funds. The European Commission confirmed that gender equality is one of the criteria by which it will judge the Next Generation EU national plans, which will also have to indicate existing national weaknesses in this regard, the aggravation due to the crisis and the tools to address the problem in the various investment chapters.

On 31 January, the manifesto "Women for salvation - Half of it - Ideas for a fresh start as equals"to be submitted to the Government and is divided into five main areas and a number of long-term policies

a) Governance and gender impact assessment 

b) Increased investment in social infrastructure; care vouchers as a transitional instrument (5 years) to accompany the implementation of new services.

c) educational strategies, STEM and countering gender stereotypes 

d) development of female entrepreneurship 

e) gender procurement and investment in equality 

Several points in the document are acceptable, such as the call for the strengthening of social infrastructure and services and the facilitation and support of female entrepreneurship. However, apart from the idea that women should receive half of the funds, half of the vision seems to be missing.

To begin with, it remains unclear how women will be able to access the resources allocated to them which, as we saw in the pre-pandemic era, often remained unused for a failure of mediation -generally by parties and intermediate bodies governed by men-. and for the extreme bureaucratic cumbersomeness that continued to hinder access. Many women entrepreneurs say that in order to access the funds intended, they had to involve a male straw-head as guarantor.

Among other things it is likely that a large part of Europe's money has come from us, awareness that we need to acquire: agreeing to be paid less at work (gender pay gap increasing steadily at global level, around 25%: the greatest theft in history, defined it as a UN economic advisor). L'Institute for women's policy research quantifies the global loss of earnings for women at USD 482 billion per year. In Italy it is on average 3 thousand euro less per year, a couple of months unpaid, and when you are a mother the gap gets wider. Not to mention the almost exclusive burden of care workwhich means loss of earnings for women and savings for families. And the same private savings are largely made by women who manage household budgets. But of all these resources produced by women, little or nothing comes back to women. These two resources, the tide of female desire and the tide of money, do not meet. Sometimes one suspects that they keep us busy defending ourselves on the lows -violence, discrimination, Pas, surrogacy, the transcult that erases us- also to distract us from this matter. So The first thing to achieve would be to streamline procedures, as well as places for mediation, accompaniment and self-managed tutoring by women and not by male bodies 'on behalf of'.

But the important thing is that the female difference is erased. Women will have a better chance if they can conform to the male model, adopting the same outlook on the world and renouncing any transformative approach that disturbs the current idea of workwhich can no longer be a hell separated from life; of economicswhich can no longer be the wealth of the very few to the detriment of the very many; caringwhich must be understood as central to human coexistence and no longer marginal and hidden under the carpet of profit and GDP. It therefore perpetuates the same logic that continues to expel women from work and the public arena.

Exemplary reasoning on STEM faculties (science, technology, engineering and mathematics): in Italy today, girls enrolling in these faculties account for more or less 20 per cent, and also Half of It proposes a campaign to broaden the female audience. But a study has shown that where women have more freedom of choice they are less likely to choose STEM. In Algeria 41% of female students graduate in STEM, similar numbers in Jordan, Qatar, UAE. Far fewer choose STEM in Sweden, Finland and Iceland. The study talks about paradox. Basically where girls are more free they choose to study what they really like and apparently they don't like STEM too much.

"Half of it could and should mean releasing women's strengths and energies, talents that are ignored, unrecognised and devalued. Instead we run the risk of continuing to be unable to be ourselves.free to follow our desires, heritage still intact inspired by another idea of growth, wealth and economy, another idea of politics and justice, of time and relationships.

Veronica Tamborini and Marina Terragni

Here, on these issues, you can listen to Linda Laura Sabbadini, central director of Istat and chair of the Women20 to be held in Italy.

8 February Justomezzo organises a webinar on the theme Recovery Fund-Women and public budgets: why gender matters. For information and registration click here

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