Southern European Women and the Economic Crisis Assessing Problems, Policies, and Practices (2009-2013)

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 1:30 PM
Room: F203
Oral Presentation
Ana PRATA , Sociology, California State University Northridge, Northridge, CA
The recent economic crisis affecting Southern European countries has been singular in both its intensity and complexity, and as such, it has had a profound impact on the economic, political, social, and institutional realms. I compare how the Spanish and Portuguese governments, women’s state agencies, parliamentary members, and activists in both countries have inserted issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment into narratives about the economic crisis and the austerity measures intended to mitigate it. The fiscal consolidation in Spain and Portugal has had a more severe impact on female employment rates, working conditions, wages, and welfare provisions than in the rest of Europe. In this comparative research I address the following questions: What policies have the Spanish and Portuguese governments pursued to mitigate the effects of the economic crisis on women’s position in the labour market and in the domestic arena? How have these governments framed the various problems and the solutions directed at increasing gender equality and empowering women? Which political groups or social movement organizations have voiced women’s interests on these issues and what strategies have they devised to deal with those challenges? Which problems affecting women are these groups framing as a priority (e.g., employment, poverty, violence) or even as ‘a problem’ at all? And finally, how are these groups framing potential solutions? Findings show that it is mostly women’s state agencies (not parliamentary members) that highlight how the economic crisis has impacted women disproportionately.  The agencies’ focus seems to be more the increase in domestic violence, and less on issues of women’s unemployment or the gender pay-gap. The print media does not highlight how the recession is affecting women, although some articles mentioned the strains families have had to deal with since the crisis and the strategies they adopted in response.