Belgium's deputy PM: Housewives a burden on the state

Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne has sparked criticism with comments to the effect that housewives - particularly those with a migrant background - are "freeloading" at the expense of society. He was referring to the fact that unemployed people in Belgium receive higher benefits if their partner stays at home rather than entering gainful employment. Commentators say such remarks are out of place and call on the state to focus on addressing its own failings in this area.

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De Standaard (BE) /

Emancipation sacrificed for the economy

The state is trying to tell women how to behave again, De Standaard fears:

“Aren't these the very women that earlier feminist waves wanted to emancipate? To give them financial autonomy, the basis for all other types of autonomy? To enlarge their world, to give them more contacts, more opportunities, more education? ... By fixating on their activation, the ideal of emancipation is left by the wayside. The economy is crying out for labour, so the last reserves are mobilised. Thus, the emancipation lever of gainful employment becomes a weapon to discipline women and train them to be productive citizens.”

La Libre Belgique (BE) /

Acknowledge value of care work and invest

It is precisely these women who ensure the good functioning of society, La Libre Belgique stresses:

“Let us not forget that many women have to do care work because the state can't find a solution. ... It's a pity that the tax reform negotiations are going nowhere. And it's a pity that Belgium doesn't invest in economic models that value this care work, whether paid or unpaid, for what it is: a fundamental social contribution. Instead of judging racialised women who do a considerable proportion of this work in our country we should invest in public services.”