Reaction of the Platform for Gender Equality: Solidarity with the caregivers from Struga!

Organizations that are part of the Platform for Gender Equality express strong concern about the developments in Struga municipality, where caregivers work with a work contract for compensation that is twice lower than the minimum wage, and almost four times lower than the official average wage for December 2023! In addition, the fact that they are threatened with an even bigger reduction in compensation and they are expected to work for 5000 MKD per month is also scandalous. The contract means that these workers do not have paid contributions, they do not have health insurance and they are exposed to the risk of poverty in the future because they will not exercise the right to a pension. In addition, compensation of 5,000 or 10,000 denars is too small, even if you take into account the fact that the minimum union basket for December was over 56,000 denars.

Just as in the home, in the labor market the work related to childcare falls on the backs of women. Kindergarten teachers are extremely important for the healthy growth and development of the youngest members of society and for building the next generation. Despite the invaluable care and love they provide, it is disappointing and embarrassing to see their wages remain among the lowest in the country. This pay gap is an insult to women and the profession, and a brazen reminder of the systemic discrimination and gender inequality that permeates every pore of our society.

In addition, the neglect of kindergarten workers is also a strong attack on the economic independence of working mothers in the community! According to Reactor's local gender index, the availability of kindergartens is directly related to the employment rate of women in the community. More specifically, in municipalities where there are kindergartens, the employment rate of women is higher than the employment rate in municipalities where there are no kindergartens. Providing a reliable and affordable support system for raising children is key to maintaining a woman's economic independence and professional development. Such injustice pushes women to the margins and prevents their personal and professional progress. The closure of a kindergarten will have a disproportionate impact on working mothers and will limit their opportunities for work and financial support for the family.

It is time to break the glass ceiling of the care sector, to recognize the vital role that women play in this sector and to commit not only to fair and dignified wages but also to a complete change of the social structures that sustain this blatant inequity. The threat of closing a kindergarten should serve as a wake-up call and encourage us to stand together and angrily and demand respect, recognition and, above all, adequate monetary compensation for the work these women invest in growing the generations that are the future of our community.

Caring for the well-being and financial security of kindergarten workers is not only a matter of justice, but also a key step towards achieving gender equality!