Costa Rica: This March 8th, let’s fight for child care units and decent housing!

By Grace Serrano

We do not conceive March 8th as a celebration for women in general. We commemorate this date as a day of struggle for working women, the ones who carry the heaviest burden of oppression and exploitation. For the struggling, persevering, humble women who manage to overcome all obstacles, those who do not give up in the face of adversity: our admiration and respect. One has to know them closely to realize how much they are worth. For all the suffering and work they go through, these women learn to value what they have and draw strength from weakness to keep fighting.

Working women: let’s grow together!

I know many colleagues who in communities and workplaces are examples of honesty, respect, humility, tolerance, responsibility and solidarity, so unlike what happens in this increasingly suffocating patriarchal capitalist society, doors should not be closed to them. They are the ones who survive and support their family with hard work and sacrifice. They lack many of the most basic resources and are subjected to aggression and humiliation, sometimes by their bosses, but also by their own male partners.

There are many migrant women in Costa Rica who have left their country of origin, burdened by violence and misery. They have traveled many kilometers and this gives them more strength to stay upright as columns. Without hesitation they face the adversities of daily life. Most of them are women who work at a very early hour and at very late hours of the night they go home to do unpaid housework and to rest for a few hours to start a new day of battle for the livelihood of their family.

As proletarian women, this class difference gives us the courage to overcome this situation and continue towards a better tomorrow. As proletarian women we must unite ties and support each other. The worker, peasant, indigenous, migrant woman must manage daily to survive. In this path we learn more and more every day, until we come to appreciate what we have, what we have achieved and what is still to be conquered. Women also realize that our problem is not an individual one, but affects millions of women in the world, who suffer the cruelest inequality. If it is a collective issue, what is due is to promote the organization and solidarity struggle of so many women who suffer from the same situation and problems.

Comrades: never stop claiming for your rights! Let our voices be heard! No one will do it for us!

You have always been strong, more than you think, you just have to stand firm moving forward together, studying and working together, you never stop learning. As organized proletarian women we can achieve great things. If we grow together it is much easier to move forward.

Two main demands for working women

From the socialist feminist perspective of the PRT we want to make it known that this March 8th we will take to the streets again in the struggle for decent housing. Our slogan has been, for several years: “The struggle for housing has a woman’s face”. This year 2023 we added a new central slogan: we demand state child care 24/7, at all hours, because working mothers mostly do not have office hours, many work in restaurants, even in bars, on night shifts and rotating schedules.

According to the latest household survey of 2022, 33.4% of Costa Rican households are headed by single mothers. Many of these households headed by women increase the statistics of poverty and extreme poverty, but society does not offer these women the conditions to get ahead, because the care of children is considered a private and domestic issue. The public kindergartens that exist at the moment have care schedules from Monday to Friday and for very few hours. This greatly affects mothers who leave their daughters and sons with their neighbors, relatives or friends in order to join the work environment that demands more than an usual 8 hour shift. And they are not the ones who define their work schedules, least of all when they are in the informal sector; this is the current situation that many women in this country have to deal with.

We believe that companies should have care centers for the sons and daughters of their workers, but for the informal sectors and other types of jobs it should be the State that directly assumes care work in the communities. Child care is not an exclusive and individual responsibility of women, or mothers, it is a job that should be taken on collectively, it is a social problem, not an individual one.

State kindergartens and care networks are not enough and that are only intended for the population in extreme poverty. It makes no sense that kindergartens are only for the poorest households, it has to be for working women and not only for those in extreme poverty. Women who earn salaries of 500 thousand or 600 thousand colones cannot be excluded from care networks. Those networks should be there for anyone who has children under their guardianship.

This March 8th join our socialist feminist column!