Polish government to introduce minimal pensions for full-time mothers

Sounds fabulous, doesn’t it? But if you were about to applaud the lawmakers, hold your horses. The program will only apply to mothers of four. And its future is uncertain.

Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko NewsMavens, Poland
Polish government to introduce minimal pensions for full-time mothers - NewsMavens
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Why this story matters:

Dropping birth rates have been the focus of Poland’s current government since its rise to power in 2015. The solution, they believe, is simple: turn back the clock. Their social policy focuses on the traditional, heteronormative model of a family, often at the expense of women’s rights.

It is in this context that the new Mom Plus (Mama Plus) scheme should be viewed. In this program, mothers who gave birth and raised at least four children but are not currently eligible for minimal pension, could soon receive it.

This idea is controversial on many levels. On the one hand, it is admirable that the government acknowledges the problem of mothers dropping out of the labour market. There’s also no question that women who choose to be full-time caretakers should receive a minimal pension.

But since only 3% of families in Poland have four children or more, this program will hardly solve the above issues. It is yet another PR move that will benefit too few people.

Among those left out are not only adoptive mothers, full-time mothers of three and two or full-time caretakers of disabled children, but also women who worked their whole lives while bringing up four or more children. And tellingly -- full-time fathers. The government seems to forget that circa 2018 parenthood is no longer an women-only occupation.

Mom Plus is thus a reflection of the government’s social policy at large. Even if well-intentioned, the scheme is rushed, ill-drafted and unjust.

Details from the story:

  • As of 2016, the birth rate in Poland is 1,3. 
  • According to a 2013 report of the then Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the causes of low fertility rates in Poland include: difficult financial situation, bad living conditions, precarious employment, uncertainty about the future, high costs of raising a child, scarcity of nurseries and kindergartens. 
  • The social policy of the Law and Justice government prioritize traditional families, giving benefits to those with at least one child (500+ program), while overlooking single mothers, not to mention non-heteronormative families.
  • Polish women are not only encouraged to have children -- they are left with limited choice. The government tried to curb the abortion law, which is already one of the strictest in Europe, and hindered access to emergency contraception (the morning-after pill).
  • Another strategy of boosting birth rate is pro-life propaganda. The high school curriculum of the so-called “family education” classes (no real sex education in this country, ladies and gentlemen), includes false information about the harmfulness of contraception.
  • According to the 2011 census, out of the families bringing up children in Poland, 53% had one child, 35% had two children, 8,6% -- three and only 3% -- four and more. 
  • At the moment, the minimal pension in Poland is 1029,80 zł (about 240 euros) gross.
  • Mom Plus is one of the government’s election promises. In spring 2018, PM Mateusz Morawiecki announced that the program will be launched in January 2019. Recently it was postponed until March.
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