Sharing Work and Family Responsibilities in Paraguay
Juggling work and family is a challenge, but when men and women equally share in the caring for their children and other family members, balancing the two responsibilities is already easier. And when governments and employers put in place family-friendly policies and measures, these create better conditions for workers with family responsibilities.
Every day starts early in Claudio and Alicia’s home. They make breakfast for their daughters, Marcela and Anna Laura, before going to their jobs.
Alicia works at a supermarket; Claudio has an office job. Even though Alicia can adjust her schedule to work the day or the night shift, balancing work and family responsibilities isn’t easy.
Alicia Bedoya, working mother
I practically live at my work. This is how the system works, in the supermarket business particularly. It really affects me a lot, I hardly have any time to spend with my family, my husband and I am really tired. I do not want to work my entire life in the supermarket that is why I am trying to acquire new skills, to have a real profession one day.
Claudio Bedoya, Alicia’s husband
Any extra time I have spent with my daughters, going to the zoo, having fun and just being there for them. It would also be good to have more time to closely follow our daughters’ education.
Maria Elena Valenzuela, Senior Gender Specialist, ILO Santiago
For many families with small children, both the mother and father have paid jobs, and this is also the case for households headed by single mothers. These situations often create tension between family responsibilities and work. It is not easy when you have this dual role.
In 2007, Paraguay ratified ILO Convention 156 on workers with family responsibilities, a flexible tool providing guidance for the formulation of national policies that will enable men and women to exercise their right to participate and engage in employment without being discriminated against because of family responsibilities.
Diverse policies and measures will help men and women better balance their job requirements and family responsibilities. These include providing social care facilities for children, the elderly and the sick or disabled, and availing maternity, paternity and parental leave for working women and men.
Carlos Carmona is a member of the tripartite commission composed of government, employers’, and workers organizations that steadily worked on the ratification process of ILO Convention 156 in Paraguay.
Carlos Carmona, Member, Tripartite Commission
Ratifying Convention 156 was a pressing necessity for Paraguay. I think that all countries that have not yet ratified this Convention have an important debt towards society, especially towards women who make up 50% of the population. The idea is to reconcile work, professional life and family so as to give women the opportunity to have access to jobs with more responsibilities. Just providing access to jobs is important, because many women do not even have this yet.
One of Paraguay’s biggest employers “ANDE” – the Administración National de Electricidad - already understands the importance of a good work-life balance. It runs a day care center for 110 children of employees, with room for more.
Irineo Zarate, ANDE, Human Resources Department
The service is available for all employees of the company, men and women. And now that there are more women working, fathers are naturally more involved and concerned with family responsibilities. Often it is the fathers who bring their children to the day care center. We have an equal number of men and women accompanying their children.
The company says the day care center has made workers more productive and happier, and the entire company benefits.
There are benefits for the company and the employees. Employees really feel more committed by being provided with these services. It is like being part of a large family, because we all have a common objective.
The real benefits of ILO Convention 156 may be, over time, to actually change attitudes toward a more equal sharing of family responsibility.
Maria Elena Valenzuela
Mothers and fathers can reconcile work and family tasks, recognising that both share these responsibilities. Family responsibilities, such as raising children, or caring for the elderly, should not be seen as a women’s job only, but also as that of men, as well as of the entire society.
Alicia understands the difference a supportive partner can make. She knows it’s not all up to her: Claudio takes equal responsibility for raising their family.
My husband helps me and I help him, although I really have very little time. He supports me in all possible ways, with my studies, my work, with our daughters, at home.
And with the newly ratified Convention 156, which supports the dual role of worker and family member, working women and men will be in a better position to balance their work and family responsibilities. And it will also pave the way in building a culture of greater sharing, caring and equality between men and women.