Maternity: with coronavirus, the workload for mothers has increased


“The relaunch decree must think of mothers and new mothers”. The appeal comes from Save the children, which to turn the spotlight on the difficulty of being mothers in Italy, a difficulty exacerbated by the coronavirus emergency, has created, together with theOrlando Association an analysis of a sample of over a thousand mothers. The data that catch the eye concern the burden of care in families most at risk of poverty, where everything falls on the shoulders of women, without the support of men: over half are alone to take care of the children (51.7%) and to do spending (50.3%), also cleaning the house and washing clothes (80.2%), and cooking (70.5%) remains an almost exclusively female activity.



The accounts of the crisis. Mothers and employees have lost more

From the analysis of Save the children, which for over 100 years has been struggling to save the lives of children and guarantee them a future, it also emerges that Italy found itself in the middle of the crisis with over 6.2 million mothers with at least one underage son. Fewer and younger ones (the average childbirth age increases inexorably and in 2019 reaches 32.1 years, the highest rate in Europe), many of them are forced to give up their professional careers (between 25 and 54 years only 57% of mothers are employed compared to 89.3% of fathers), they cannot rely on an early childhood network (only 24.7% of children attend a socio-educational service for early childhood) and they often admit that they have changed some aspect of their working activity to try to reconcile work and private life (the choice of the reduction of working time concerned 18% of women and only 3% of men).

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The relationship: more and more “balance”

The report “Le Equilibriste: maternity in Italy 2020” released today “clearly shows that the condition of mothers in Italy cannot overcome some gaps, such as the very burdensome one of the care load, which forces many of them to make a clear choice between work and family life – observes Save the children – an already critical situation that has further worsened with the Covid-19 emergency, especially for the 3 million workers with at least one young child (under 15 years), around 30 % of total employed (9 million 872 thousand) “.



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The emergency forced women to struggle among a thousand tasks more than before, hence the title “le equilibriste”, chosen for the relationship. “Although almost half of those interviewed (44.4%) are continuing their work in an agile way – reads the note accompanying the dossier -, of these, only 25.3% have a room separate from the children and companions / husbands where they can work, while almost half (42.8%) are forced to share the workspace with their family members During this period, 3 out of 4 mothers among those interviewed (74.1% ) the domestic workload has increased, both for the care of children, the elderly at home, people who are not self-sufficient, and for the daily activities of housework (shopping, preparing meals, cleaning the house, washing machines, ironing Among those who have declared an increase in the domestic load, 43.9% declare a strong increase, while 30.2% consider it to have increased slightly “.

According to the NGO, the measures of the “Cura Italia” decree and renewed with the Relaunch Decree, (of which the discussion in the Budget Committee in the Chamber begins today) “concerned a somewhat reduced audience of working parents: from the latest data available only 242 thousand workers and workers have applied for the leave provided for parents with children up to 12 years of age, few requests for the babysitting bonus (alternative to leave) of a maximum of 600 euros, just over 93 thousand “.

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“With the start of phase three, the most penalized are likely to be working mothers, about 6% of the Italian population. With the failure to reopen services for early childhood, many women, especially those with lower wages and employed in sectors where physical presence is required, they risk having to decide not to return to work, aggravating the already difficult situation of Italian female employment levels. For those who can work in smart working, there is a strong risk of an excessive work load and cure – says Antonella Inverno, Child Policy Officer of Save the Children – It is necessary to adopt as soon as possible an extraordinary Plan for childhood and adolescence, which focuses on the rights of minors, because families must not be leave alone to face the educational and social challenges that the health crisis has imposed “.



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The friendly regions of mothers

Save the Children report “Le Equilibriste: motherhood in Italy 2020” includes, like every year, the Index of Mothers which identifies the Regions in which it is more or less easy to be mothers, elaborated by Istat for Save the Children, which measures, through 11 indicators, the condition of mothers with respect to the three different dimensions: that of care, work and services. The 2020 index refers to the situation prior to the health crisis caused by the covid-19 emergency. Also this year, the Index of Mothers returns a photograph of pre-Covid Italy in a leopard spot, with the northern regions more open to providing support to motherhood and those of the South in which mothers have to work hard to find a balance between work and care load. The Autonomous Provinces of Bolzano and Trento are again at the top of the general classification. In third place was Emilia-Romagna (5th last year), followed by Valle d’Aosta (4th place as last year) and Lombardy (which lost two positions compared to the previous year. Sicily ( 21 ° place) and Campania (20 ° place) are confirmed as the regions where being mothers is more complicated than elsewhere, followed by Calabria (20 ° last year), Puglia (which loses a position compared to 2018) and Basilicata ( 18th place last year) While the most virtuous regions bring out support for motherhood with targeted welfare policies, the regions that occupy the last positions show an index of less than 100, mainly due to the economic crisis and the progressive worsening of policies for children.

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So Covid made the mothers’ situation worse

From the analysis developed by Save the Children on the questionnaires administered by the Orlando association, as regards the main critical issues that mothers experienced in the forced isolation phase, the distance from their loved ones (in 21.7% of cases), the limitation of activities related to personal well-being (15.4%) and the weight of childcare work (14%), even prevailed on forced isolation (13.9%) and on the fear of contagion (11.3% ). Economic problems (8%), home conflicts (6.7%) and the risk of job loss (6.3%) are also worrying.Furthermore, particular problems concern single parents, who simultaneously face the work and family emergencies. Among these, the great majority is represented by women, 302 thousand mothers (compared to 47 thousand dads) who have to manage work and care for their children alone. Without considering the approximately 70 thousand women who are estimated to have given birth to a son in recent months, many of whom have had to confront, in addition to the classic worries and apprehensions of new mothers, also with those created by Coronavirus and related to the difficulty of have clear and unambiguous information on the transmission of the virus, the dangers of contagion, breastfeeding, the possibility or not of being able to be with the newborn in the event of a positive Coronavirus.

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