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Government cuts will force women to stay at home

JHL’s Chief Executive Officer Päivi Niemi-Laine is seriously concerned about the measures Prime Minister Sipilä Government’s is taking and which will severely affect women and children. The Nordic welfare state is coming to the end of the road if these actions are put into effect, she says.

The Government is planning to cut staffing for care of elderly people. This may lead to a situation where family members are obliged to take more responsibility for care of elderly people. At the moment 700,000 people – mostly women – are taking care of their ageing parents.

The Government is also planning changes to early childhood education and care. As of now the law stipulates that parents are entitled to place their child in public day care. The Government now wants to impose restrictions on this right, setting certain conditions in order to get day care.

Niemi-Laine is afraid that this development will take Finland back to the time when the role of a man was to be the sole bread-winner of the family. There is also a danger that women’s responsibility to provide care will extend not only to their children but to their parents, too, and that women in the future will not be able to stay in working life until retirement.

”We are a small nation, we cannot afford not to use the potential of competent women. Women are now on average better educated than men and to push them outside working life would be fatal to the competitiveness of the whole country”, she says.

Among a host of other repressive measures the Sipilä Government Programme wants ”to allow fixed-term employment relationships of less than a year without separate justification”. Existing Finnish legislation stipulates that there has to be valid reasons for fixed-term employment. Furthermore, the programme aims to prolong the trial period for new employees from four to six months.

Niemi-Laine is afraid that these new rules will also worsen the situation of women in the labour market.

”All this combined with women’s growing responsibility to provide care will mean broken work careers and old age poverty due to low pensions.This inevitably raises the question: what have women and children done wrong to the Government in order to earn such treatment”, Niemi-Laine says.

Heikki Jokinen