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Session Overview
RN14_07a_P: Gender and Austerity
Thursday, 31/Aug/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Hazel Conley, University of the West of England
Location: PC.4.22
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 4.

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Single mothers and personal agency: opportunities and strategies for resistance and survival in times of austerity

Kate Julie Clayton-Hathway

Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom

The discourse surrounding lone mothers has long been highly politicised, entrenched in a paradigm of dependency and notions of an underclass. This doctoral research used an alternative perspective of gender equality, looking at the positive legal rights of single mothers, focussing on them as service users.

Reflexive equalities law introduced in the UK during 2010 was intended to allow local stakeholders some agency in the distribution of resources. This has provided increased opportunities for those who rely heavily on state services - particularly the socially and economically marginalised – and those who seek to help them. However, a prevailing environment of austerity and cuts to funding in social care, education and health services means that accessing resources presents a growing challenge.

Using an approach influenced by feminist thought, with a standpoint grounded in these women’s unique interests and experiences, this study encouraged women to ‘speak for themselves’ and explore the issues from the ground up. Through interviews with stakeholders and lone mothers themselves, a rich picture has emerged of these women’s lived experiences and the agency they exercise in challenging and resisting their material and structural constraints. In contrast to stereotypes of poor choices and a culture of reliance, the findings show how these women operate as social actors to improve their own and their children’s situations.

Long Term Care, Gender and the Crisis in Greece: Comparing pre and post-crisis microdata

Antigone Lyberaki1, Platon Tinios2, Zafiris Valvis2, Thomas Georgiadis1

1Panteion University of Political and Social Sciences, Greece; 2University of Piraeus, Greece

The Greek crisis was exceptionally deep and implied major realignments in income roles and retrenchment in public welfare services. These realignments are likely to have been felt especially in the field of Long Term Care (LTC) and more especially in gender roles in its provision. This is supplied in Greece by a hybrid welfare state, comprised of a ‘formal’ state-based system and an ‘informal’ family-based system, centred on women. Thus, both aspects -gender and retrenchment – are likely to be highlighted through examining the changes in LTC provision and finance through the crisis.

The proposed paper compares microdata from SHARE (Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe) wave 2 (2006/7) with data of the same survey for wave 6 (2015). Though Greece did not participate in SHARE w4 and w5, there nevertheless exists substantial longitudinal information in SHARE w6 (3000+ individuals) who had participated in pre-crisis waves and are now included.

The empirical investigation lies in three directions: First, how LTC needs altered during the crisis. Second, whether the crisis changed the pattern of response to these needs, as a reaction to retirement patterns or household incomes. Third whether the crisis led to a change in gender roles in LTC as a reaction to formal sector retrenchment.

More occupied more unequal: the crisis effects on women's work in Italy

Fatima Farina, Alessandra Vincenti

University of Urbino, Italy

This paper looks at the effects of the crisis on women's participation in the Italian labour market by considering policies, numbers and quality of work. Given the widespread belief that the crisis has hit mainly the male labour force, the analysis presented shows the ‘corrosive effect’ on the traditional weak female participation of women in the national labour market, even in a comparative European frame. The paper is focused on how the recent growth in female offer is, paradoxically, a symptom of a more serious trouble than a virtuous pushing factors. In fact, the increasing of female working participation in the “Crisis Eve” goes with a negative qualitative trend in working conditions, salary, gender pay gap, working time, etc. Also the policies adopted over the last years, regarding labour market and reconciliation, helped to increased inequalities, intergenerational and territorial gap, keeping Italy a “peculiar case” where the policies adopted over the last year are far from being gender (equality) oriented and the breadwinner model is not yet overcome. Being Italy one of the most industrialised countries with the highest gender inequality, the old structural problems overlap the new crisis through a regressive tendency both in terms of socio-economic participation and of gender equality.

Women in Greece during the crisis: A social investment programme evaluation

Alexandra Koronaiou, Georgios Alexias, Georgios Vagias, Alexandros Sakellariou

Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences of Athens

Despite the fact that the economic crisis that runs its seventh year in Greece had a severe impact on men and women respectively, the truth is that women’s place in the labour market is still worse compared to their male counterparts. Female unemployment is still very high and women are less paid compared to men. Within such an environment the implementation of social investment projects on women is of crucial importance. The purpose of this paper is to present the findings of an evaluation of a social investment programme called “Promotion and strengthening of women’s participation in trade unions and their representation bodies” designed and implemented in Greece (2011-2014). This programme aimed at promoting and ensuring the active participation of women workers in positions of responsibility at all levels and types of trade unions. Through the in-depth qualitative analysis of documents, focus groups and semi-structured interviews with women who took part in the programme and staff employed during its implementation the following questions raised: Did women participated in the programme? Were women interested in such an intervention? Which were the advantages and disadvantages of the programme? Were there any side effects and/or unexpected outcomes? Which were the outcomes of the evaluation of the programme? How such programmes of social investment could help in confronting the economic crisis? The paper is based on the findings of Innosi (Innovative Social Investment: Strengthening Communities in Europe) a Horizon 2020 research project (2015-2017) on social investment and social innovation.

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