Hejab Menahel

Hejab Menahel

Hijab Minahil is a human and animal rights activist, focusing on woman empowerment and child rights.. She has a degree in Social Integration and is right now pursuing another degree in Philology
Hejab Menahel

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We all know about the global economic crisis; unemployment, homelessness, poverty, precarious jobs, labour exploitation, weird contracts with weird clauses, taking the work of a to-be paid professional from “volunteers,” aka the modern day slaves in many places. In short, everyone more or less accepts the job they land, often without complaining, for the fear of not finding one again if they reject this one.

I happen to have come across an excerpt from a course book of economics for college students in some provinces in southern Spain, discussing and teaching, among many things, the causes of the global recession to its readers.

Here is an actual photo of the passage

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Source: eldiario.es

Translation:

“OTHER FACTORS OF UNEMPLOYMENT.”

-The higher level of competence which implicates the increase of the international commerce obligates the business firms to reduce costs and make cuts in their workforces.

-The use of technological advanced which let (the firms have) reduced workforce in the productive process.

-The incorporation of women in the labour market has considerably increased the available jobs.

-The arrival to the industrialized countries of workforce from the Eastern countries, Asia, South America and underdeveloped countries has intensified the unemployment problem.

Being a woman and an immigrant, this, of course, is pretty offensive to me. I remember having heard this before too. Oh yes!! In my own class when a classmate did this assignment. It sounded not-so-good to me back then too, but, anyways.

Now, according to what the book says, all the inflation is basically my fault. I feel so ashamed for immigrating to Spain and getting out of the house to go to work, just like any native and any man.

I’ll take both these sentences one by one.

First, let’s analyse “The incorporation of women in the labour market has considerably increased the available jobs.”

This implies that just because I happen to be a 21st century woman pursuing a professional career, it’s my fault that nobody is getting a job. Wow. I never knew women were as powerful. Sarcasm apart, this sentence is being taught to students of 16 to 17 years of age. And then we complain that adolescents are becoming more and more male-dominant minded with time. The author(s) are, between the lines, fomenting patriarchy and the idea that unemployment is the women’s fault; that they are working lessens the job for men, and thus women should stay home while men earn money on which the women remain dependent. Sounds cool. I should, from now on, to cater men so that they can get a job, stay at home and do the dishes and cook and be submissive, and apart from that, be happily discriminated against.

Now, the next part: “The arrival to the industrialized countries of workforce from the Eastern countries, Asia, South America and underdeveloped countries has intensified the unemployment problem.”

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, before the economic crisis, most natives refused job offers that paid low—for their standards, at least. With globalization, people from various underdeveloped countries came to the industrialized countries and happily accepted these “leftover” jobs. With the construction boom and the creation of Schengen spaces and all that, more people immigrated easily. They worked for cheaper rates and more hours as compared to the natives. Nobody said anything. Everyone was happy.

And then came the global economic crisis. People, irrespective of origin, nationality or gender, started losing jobs, and those “leftover” jobs became competitive posts. And while once upon a time nobody bothered about them, now people were fighting over them, and the immigrants—the weaker, were often blamed by the ignorant people. They said, and I quote, “Vienen para quitarnos el trabajo.” (They come to snatch away our jobs.)

Sound familiar, eh?  Yeah. We just happen to read it in this Economics book, probably written by researchers and educated authors.

Reality check: The immigrants took the jobs you did not want earlier.

The damage that this lesson does is beyond our “Oh, that’s not true.” The students are subtly being fed that it’s the women’s and the outsiders’ fault that people are going through an economic crisis. It’s telling them that a woman’s place is in the kitchen otherwise she will bring bad things upon the world, like global recession. They’re being taught that a woman, who already works for lesser pay and more hours, should not work.

The global recession did a good thing: it empowered women and they became more involved in the labour market because the salaries suddenly became less than enough to feed the family. The men who lost their jobs, did not lose them to women. They lost them because the jobs stopped existing.

Why is it okay for everyone to accept that women depend on men, but not okay when they earn for themselves and do not have to be stuck with men for sustenance, who may even treat them bad and exercise gender based violence upon their partners? Just like every misogynistic person, here, in this academic book, women are being blamed for what has gone wrong.

We are on the way to more and more discrimination against women, and that, through our school books. We fight against gender roles and fight for gender equality, but our school books have a whole another purpose, it seems. Going back to Neanderthal era, probably?

And when we blame the “immigrants” for unemployment, we are not just saying, “They come to snatch our jobs.” Behind this six-word sentence is a huge threat to the social integration of immigrants in the receiving country. The ideology that this academic lesson promotes is spiked with xenophobia and racism.

Immigrant workers already work for lower wages, don’t complain a lot, and accept tedious work for more hours. Immigrant workers are marginalized because even if they have studies, they will have problems convalidating them. And being an “immigrant” is a label enough to be prejudiced against.

No, they don’t snatch away your jobs. They’re already marginalized. The ones who snatch your jobs are those who give jobs to their unqualified friends, relatives or acquaintances, not those who work hard for less money to provide for their families.

With this lesson, they’re augmenting xenophobia and of course, racism.

The ones who are responsible for unemployment are those who have made wrong policies and thus have fuelled the lack of jobs, those who are corrupt beyond shamelessness, and those who have spent the public money on place it should not have been wasted. Nobody talks about the real causes. All we are doing is brainwashing our youth through neoliberalist books.

When all of this is taught in schools and colleges, we can never combat racial and gender discrimination, bullying in schools, marginalization and so many other collectives that are at risk of social exclusion. We are facing a problem too big for us to handle if we continue with such books.

The offensive and prejudicial book should be removed from the school course, completely. And we all need to be careful with our words and our intentions. Peace.

 

 

 

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