2nd shift – REST/PRIVACY


Childcare obligations have been considered one of the obstacles to women entering or remaining in the job market, while in the past women were able to accommodate childcare responsibilities by bringing children into the factory and exercising the role of caretakers and industrial workers simultaneously. Could a more equal share of childcare responsibilities contribute to a more diverse industrial labour landscape?

62. Leather workers. Late XIX or early XX. Interactive Museum of Industry, Gabrovo, Bulgaria.


The emergence of childcare facilities helped women to detach from their traditional role of carers and dedicate time to their careers. Additionally, it helped the development of children outside of their family environment from an earlier age. How do you think this impacted children’s education?

63. Child care in a textile factory.1982. Interactive Museum of Industry, Gabrovo, Bulgaria.

Childcare and family care are of paramount importance within the labour context and consist of public, private, individual, or collective services responding to the needs of parents and children or members of the immediate family.

As most of the child- related and overall care responsibilities are still perceived as a woman’s job, the availability of high quality, affordable childcare facilities for young children from birth to compulsory school age plays a key role in ensuring gender equality and reducing gender gaps in the labour market. As a core priority for the EU, childcare services and facilities shall be made available ranging from day nurseries and other day-care centres, family day-care, professional certified childminders, pre-school education or similar, mandatory school education and centre or activities- based services.

The right to work is a human right but so is the right to have a family. To ensure equal access to employment, it is vital that public and private actors provide facilities that will give the possibility to workers to combine paid employment and their family responsibilities.

With the increasing participation of women in the labour market – and some of the shifts in the labour structure and organisation to increasingly encompass new forms of work organisation and self-managed teams – employers, companies, and cooperatives, mostly in developed countries, are voluntarily and more proactively engaged in providing on-site or off-site childcare centres, private home day-care agencies, family benefits to employees, among other initiatives.

In sectors like industry, these initiatives, policies, and measures will contribute to a higher proportion of women taking on these tasks, and jobs, eventually leading to the redefinition of the traditional understanding of the division of labour, which might positively impact in the reconfiguration of the sector, in line with the European priorities to encompass wider gender representation in industry related jobs.