WOMEN, MOTHERS, WORKERS: DO PUBLIC POLICIES FIT THE MARK? THE CASE OF SPAIN AND THE UK
The purpose of this paper is to fill in our understanding of the complex interaction between women-mothers-workers, socio-cultural contexts, states, and social policies on reproduction, work-life balance and early-childhood education and care. What barriers do women in Spain and in the UK face on the road to becoming solo mothers by choice, and how do they navigate these challenges? Hence this paper has the following aims: first, to identify the dominant approaches and the ways in which the normative assumptions and lack of reproductive, work-life balance and early-education and care policies are challenged in Spain and the UK. Second, to examine the unequal access to assisted reproductive technology (ART) as a reproductive right to form a family. Third, to analyse the gendering of policies and the way responsibilities for caring needs are allocated between families and the state. Finally, it aims to explore how women juggle both earning a living and mothering their children, and how the welfare state and policy paradigms do not consider the unpaid care work, which contributes to gender inequalities in the labour market and other spheres of life. I will draw on an ethnographic study that focuses on Spain and the UK to examine the effects of these policies, the social contexts in which they are applied and the desires, frustrations and needs expressed by the women interviewed.