Tackling the cost of childcare is incredibly important. But we all need to change our narrative on it.
It’s true that in most cases women are still the primary caregivers. This is clearly an issue that affects women more than men. That’s because we live in a society where, wrongly, gender roles are assigned and too often go unchallenged. Reducing the cost of childcare is important to women’s equality, as it would allow more women to overcome those stereotypes and return to work when they want to.
But, rather than accepting that women tend to be primary caregivers, we need to be challenging it. When talking about childcare it should be clear that we do not see this as a “women’s issue”, but rather as a parental issue – a responsibility that we expect men to undertake as much as women.
There’s no doubting that childcare is an issue that impacts on women more than men, but by refusing to challenge that stereotype and continuing to frame it as a women’s issue, we only serve to entrench this sexism in society.
Surely getting the policy right is the main thing and the effect will be to change expectations, where they need to be changed. Sex is a fact of life, and has natural consequences which are not necesarily sexist (for example you cannot give a man maternity leave as he cannot give birth).
Stereotypes are not necessarily sexist – there do seem to be traits which are more often found in women than men and vice versa. It is only when sex is used as an excuse that it becomes sexism.