As every year, the theme of writing the National High School Exam (Enem) gains wide repercussion in the country. On the afternoon of this Sunday (5), the first day of the Enem 2023 exams, the National Institute of Educational Studies and Research Anísio Teixeira (Inep) released the theme of the dissertation text required by the exam: “Challenges for confronting the invisibility of care work carried out by women in Brazil”.
According to the Continuous National Household Sample Survey (Pnad) 2022, prepared by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), women dedicate, on average, 21.3 hours a week to household chores and caring for people, while men men use 11.7 hours.
This situation, in the opinion of experts interviewed by the report, excessively penalizes women, creating barriers to entry into the job market under equal conditions, as well as to participation in public life and other social spaces still hegemonically dominated by men.
“It is a reality that is not paid much attention to, there is a naturalization that the task of taking care of people is something that belongs to women, something that is understood as a feminine nature. This has to do with a way that is organized gender tasks in society, the provision of resources, which overloads families”, points out sociologist Laís Abramo, national secretary of Care and Family, a body linked to the Ministry of Development and Social Assistance, Family and Fight Against Hunger (MDS) .
For her, who is heading a working group (GT) to prepare the National Care Policy, the issue being discussed in the Enem writing is something very necessary. “We know the importance of this test in terms of democratizing access to higher education and that all the topics raised in the essay are moments for reflection. When I saw it, I was very happy”, she commented in an interview with Agência Brasil.
Laís Abramo’s expectation is that, in May of next year, the federal government will present proposals for a normative framework that effectively recognizes the right to care, and the rights of those who care, in addition to promoting the expansion of existing public policies and even the creation of new rights.
Journalist and researcher Ismália Afonso, officer for gender and race issues at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Brazil, also highlights the scope that the subject gained when it was included in the Enem test, “which has a strong to guide the public debate”. “Furthermore, the theme of the essay is based on the idea that we look at inequality, we don’t discuss whether the problem exists or not. This puts us on another level of discussion”, she observes.
Author of the book Neither work nor study? Gender and racial inequality in the trajectory of young women from the outskirts of Brasília (Appris, 2018), the researcher also argues that the invisibility of care work carried out by women, not only in Brazil, is an expression of gender inequality, that is, of the social structure that values men and women differently. “Men are not prepared to naturalize certain types of work, while women are socially constructed for this. Even though there is legislation that pays women for caring work, we need to encourage a cultural change”, he argued in an interview with Agência Brasil.
The resumption of social policies for gender equality in the country, which were discontinued in recent years, also seeks to place Brazil on the same level as other Latin American countries that have advanced in recent years. A decree published by the Argentine government, in 2021, began to recognize maternal care as time of service considered for granting retirement.
“Since the beginning of this discussion, we have been looking closely at international experiences. There are several Latin American countries that are more advanced in structuring national care policies”, he points out.
Laís Abramo cites an experience in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, which established the so-called Care Quarters, which are public facilities such as collective laundries, solidarity kitchens and popular restaurants concentrated in a small territorial radius, as a way to mitigate work time and effort. of care.
In Brazil, the national secretary of Care and Families highlights, for example, the additional payment of R$150 to beneficiaries of the Bolsa Família program with children up to 6 years of age, which was established in March. “Care is a human right. All people need care. And we understand that care is work, which involves many hours a day throughout a lifetime. You cannot make the provision of this care fall on the shoulders of women in an unpaid manner”, argues Laís Abramo.
Next Wednesday (8), in Brasília, the federal government will host an international seminar, involving senior authorities in the area of social assistance from the Mercosur countries (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay), precisely to debate the strengthening of policies public information about care. The event takes place in the context of Brazil’s temporary presidency at the head of the South American regional bloc.
Proposals under debate
Among the proposals being debated in the GT created by the federal government is the expansion of maternity leave for mothers who are outside the job market. Paternity leave, currently only 5 days for workers with a formal contract, is considered insufficient by experts. The idea of establishing parental leave is also being studied, which would be a period of leave to be shared between the child’s parents or legal guardians.
There are also goals in the area of education that have a direct impact on mitigating this unpaid work, such as the goal of expanding access to daycare for 50% of children aged 0 to 3 years. Currently, this coverage is at 35%. The expansion of full-time schooling from elementary school onwards is also considered a fundamental measure to prevent women from having to give up work or careers to take care of their children during the shift they are not at school.
For Ismália Afonso, facing this challenge requires a wide range of measures, including a new social pact. “We need to act both from the point of view of public policies and from the point of view of a new social agreement, on who does what within families, within the world of unpaid work and within the social structure that attributes different powers to men and women “, it says.