07/03/2021

Women on the front line who don't want to be heroines

2 min
Health staff at the Guttman Institute in Badalona, which has converted part of its spaces into a hospital for covid patients derived from Can Ruti.
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Tomorrow's Women's Day celebration is marked by a pandemic that has shown that, in crisis situations such as the one we have experienced, women are the ones who suffer the most on the front line. This is not a historical novelty, because it has already been seen in sufficient numbers, for example in cases of war, but it has shown that even in countries like ours, where we had the feeling that we had made great progress on issues of equality, when things go wrong the main burden falls, as always, on the female gender. The data in this regard are overwhelming: in seven of the nine professions that have been on the front line of the fight against the virus, women are in majority. Just think about it: the nurse who takes care of the sick, the cleaner who makes sure the operating rooms are clean, the caregiver of our grandfather, the teacher of our children... On average, women have become more ill from covid and have lost more work, but at the same time it turns out that three quarters of the voices that appear in the media to talk about the pandemic are men. It is too great an imbalance.

In a context of lockdown and health crisis, care has been put at the centre and suddenly we have realised that there are professions that are so feminised that they seem to respond to a classic role of gender division. And no, care, like housework, does not have to be the sole responsibility of women. But the effect of the pandemic has led to steps backwards in this and other areas. That is why this Women's Day must serve to make visible the impact that the pandemic has had on gender equality and to open a serious debate on what measures can be taken to avoid going backwards. Aid for work-life balance, timetable reform, and the incorporation of a gendered perspective into social and economic policies appear to be absolutely necessary measures. In this sense, in the next Government, the gender focus must be transversal in all of the ministries, and not be an issue of a specific department.

Today's ARA dossier also wants to pay tribute to the women who have been in the front line against the pandemic, and to do so through their witnesses. On a day when health restrictions will prevent the massive mobilizations that have been seen in recent years, it is important to do this exercise of listening to the voices of these "invisible women". The witness of Victoria Medina, a cleaning worker at the Hospital de Sant Pau, who went from cleaning the ICU rooms to being admitted in them herself, sedated and intubated, is especially moving. A year later she still hasn't fully recovered.

The women who are on the front line do not want to be heroines, only that their work is recognized and valued now that it has been seen that they were "essential" tasks, without which the economy and the entire social welfare system could not be maintained in operation. Let's hope that this very bad experience of the pandemic will help to put things in their place once and for all.

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