The incompatibility of the working hours and the school timetables, the main barrier to access to the labor market for migrant mothers

The European project [email protected], in which ABD participates, is launched to improve the employability of at least 90 mothers from diverse backgrounds

The European project [email protected] was launched this May with the aim of promoting economic and social integration between groups of migrant mothers (aged 25 to 45), improving its current and future employability. Until the end of January 2023, the project will support at least 90 mothers from diverse backgrounds to play an active role in society, thus facilitating their integration into the community, reducing their social exclusion, preventing the risk of current poverty and ensuring better retirement conditions for the future.

[email protected], is funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and coordinated by Pro Arbeit. It has, as well, partner entities:  ABD Welfare and Development Association, SYNTHESIS Center for Research and Education, Vital Aid Foundation, Cidis Onlus, Solution: Solidarité & Inclusion & Réseau Européen des Femmes Migrantes.

Research on the situation of migrant mothers in Spain

One of the first activities carried out by the project is a research about the situation of this group in Spain. The study has two parts: a theoretical research of data about the subject and a more practical one, in which interviews were conducted with migrant mothers who are participating in two other projects from ABD: Mamalyona and Food Relations.

Theoretical study: 86% of temporary contracts signed by women correspond to foreign women

Almost half of migrants living in Spain are women (49.89%, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE)). This percentage has increased considerably in recent years, which has led to the emergence of new social realities that need to be addressed. It is estimated that a high volume of these women have children to take care (there are currently 1,905,086 foreign women of childbearing age, aged 15 to 54, in Spain, according to the INE), and a part of them are single parent families; whereby, their entry into the standard labor market is extremely complicated.

Some data that show these difficulties are the temporality of the contracts and, in general, the type of contracts they get: 86% of temporary contracts signed by women correspond to foreing women; therefore, its percentage of stability is only 15%. Likewise, 15.42% of foreign women have part-time contracts, ahead of foreign men, who have 11,66% of part-time contracts, according to data from the Observatori de les Ocupacions, 2019. In addition, it should be noted the relevance of the informal work that many migrant women face due to the difficulty of getting their administrative situation regularized; causing situations of violations of fundamental rights: endless days, schedules difficult to combine with personal and family life or impossibility to report violent or discriminatory situations.

Practical study: More free public care services and more time flexibility to reconcile working hours and school timetables

In the practical part of the research, 10 migrant mothers from the Mamalyona and Food Relations programs were interviewed. Their responses point to the incompatibility of their working hours with school timetables as one of the main barriers to accessing the labor market. This is exacerbated by the lack of availability of free care services, especially those for early childhood, and the high cost of private services. Therefore, the vast majority of migrant mothers opt for part-time or short hours jobs, and often prioritize the care of their children over the lack of other reconciliation strategies, such as the availability of family support.

Other important barriers are the difficulty of certifying qualifications obtained in their countries of origin, the precariousness in the available job offers, and the need to adapt to an unknown work culture. It is also often pointed out the existence of discriminatory attitudes and practices by employers: they often get rejected from job offers when they explain that they are mothers, or even fired for announcing that they were pregnant.

These situations lead foreign women to job insecurity and, as a result, often lead them to serious situations of social exclusion and poverty.

To overcome these barriers, women point to some solutions: increasing the supply of public and free care services, and extracurricular activities, and a change in the business mentality that translates into greater time flexibility to address the urgencies and care needs of sons and daughters from a non-discriminatory position and understanding with parenting. 

Upcoming activities

[email protected] project was presented in February with online meetings of partner organizations. From now on, it will continue with the selection of women who will participate in employability improvement activities to begin with counseling and support sessions in September.

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