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The issue of family&-employment reconciliation has rapidly evolved from being ignored to a certain dejá vu perception in public debate, as a result of its media success during the last decade. This is even more the case in Spain, where it was only in the late 1990s, when a law was passed to regulate and extend parental and other leave for workers with close relatives in need of care, that reconciliation policies began to be generally discussed and considered. In a context of quick population aging as a consequence of low fertility, concern on labor force supply in the middle term is high on the agenda. Women are increasingly considered to be necessary both as workers and mothers (of future workers), thus raising awareness of the importance of social policies to make their double presence in both worlds possible. There is now general agreement from the right to the left on the urgency to develop family&-employment policies. But what is not generally addressed is the impact of such policies on gender equality, a dimension which tends to be either ignored or taken for granted. Not all reconciliation measures have the same effects on the women and men relationship. Some of them push forward equality, whereas others go backwards. Efficiency in making job and family responsibilities compatible does not always go hand in hand with increasing equality. The paper presents a theoretical model for the reconciliation of work and family life from a gender equality perspective. The three main kinds of instruments available in social policy &- services, leave, and cash &- are examined in four different cases: care of under-threes, care of sick children, coordination of work and school schedules, and care of children during school holidays. The model includes as active agents of the system the State (promotes and regulates), families and individuals (those directly implicated), and the market as labor market, on the one hand, and supplier of private services, on the other.
social policy; ; gender equality; ; reconciliation of work and family life