2019-08-12

Fighting to Keep the Retirement Income for Housewives in Argentina

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On July 16th 2015, Argentina created a temporary retirement policy for informal workers, commonly known as “retirement income for housewives”.

 

 This provisional policy had its due date on july 23rd but current president, Mauricio Macri, prolonged it until 2022. Even though this could be seen as a positive step from the Macri administration, in the midst of a political reelection, there’s an ongoing discussion between Argentinians of why this needs to become a permanent law.

Harvesters, cleaning ladies and housewives are some of the workers who are part of the informal economy and could only have access to retirement funds, in 2015, after Argentinian congress approved a temporary retirement policy for all informal workers (86% being women and 14% men). Now, in 2019, this keeps being temporary and there’s a big reason that explains why it should become a permanent public policy.

One of the main reasons is that if this policy disappears, it would mean that all the potential retirees would not only lose a fair remuneration for all their work but would also be forced to apply for PUAM, Universal Pension for Seniors, which only represents 80% of retirement funds and determines that to be able to get it, each applicant needs to declare him/herself in a condition of poverty since it is a subsidy from the government and not a rightful law to recognize labor rights that were denied for decades.

Data from CEPA, Center of Political Economy of Argentina, shows that almost 100 thousand citizens are under the poverty line after receiving PUAM instead of a regular pension through a temporary retirement policy.

It is also necessary since many women, who take care of home labours, don’t get a minimum acknowledgment for this. According to economist doctor, Mercedes D’Alessandro, in Argentina one in five female workers belong to the domestic sphere (the majority being cleaning ladies and the remaining stay at home moms) This is the worst paid job and the most informal in the country. Women under 29 years old are the ones who face the highest unemployment rates, reaching over 20%.

This, as well, is about something more significant, gender equality. In the country women spent 3 to 6 hours a day on household chores and taking care of their children, while men spent  about 1.9 hours. These figures reflect not only the lack of recognition that women get for their work but it also shows the difference and inequality that they have to face with men when it comes to family care.

The temporary policy allowed that approximately 1.796.439 women between 60 and 65 years old could apply for retirement funds. Commonly known as pensión de amas de casa, (housewives retirement) or la jubilación de Néstor (After former president Néstor Kirchner, the creator of the policy) this temporary regulation is at risk of disappearing after Macri’s term unless an upcoming president makes it a permanent law. 

Miguel Angel Pichetto, current vice president candidate for Macri’s reelection went viral last year for saying: “Many people from the Argentine middle class were able to retire, paying lawyers: women who drink tea in the afternoon went and retired with the housewife system, what do I know?”. Even though Macri just prolonged the policy for another 3 years, these words resonate with everyone who questions whether this was done for a political or a rights purpose.



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