• Blame game always on women

    The author, as a child, with her parents and one of her sisters. Photo: private.

    I come from a Catholic family. I have three sisters. But when I think about having children, what I see is the uncertainty of the future.

    After the 2008 crisis, the Spanish labor market suffered a shock. What used to be ‘a company you always worked for’ transformed into unemployment queues. We received the ‘firing flexibility’ but without the perspective of a fast re-hiring in another company.

    Now, if I don’t know whether I will still have a job in five years’ time, how am I going to embark on a long-term commitment like having a child?

    When I hear drastic warnings about the shrinking of the European population, fears that Spain’s birth rate is among the lowest in Europe, or politicians blaming young women and their lifestyle for this situation: it’s always on women.

    The blame for the decline in birth rates only falls on women joining the workforce (it’s true!), women wanting to focus on their careers (also true!) and even ‘selfish’ women trying to enjoy longer child-free years of youth (more truths!).

    But when politicians address natality, it is never about housing, economic insecurity, the labor market, or the cost of living. Government policies should approach the problem in a holistic way. Unfortunately, it has always been a disappointment.

    Instead of trying to convince me to have children, the Government could try to fix the housing market. After years of unstable employment, I was 27 years old when I got my first fixed contract. In Madrid, where I live, finding an affordable house with more than two rooms in a normal neighborhood is an ordeal. And forget about buying a place.

    How could I think about having a child without a house to raise them? Let alone four kids, like my mother.

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