The impact of the economic crisis on families

Families are being hard hit by the crisis through rising unemployment, falling purchasing power, increasing debt, poverty and social exclusion. Families are indeed victims of the crisis, but they are also among the essential acting stakeholders towards necessary changes.

Pic crisis

The current economic crisis is already having long term implications on the well-being of families in the European Union. Due to the additional impact of austerity measures, millions of families are challenged in ways that will cause major negative effects to their lives, of their ageing relatives and of their children, and indeed, the future of Europe’s younger generations is at stake. Unfortunately, poverty and social exclusion of families will continue to rise. All Member States are concerned, but some are harder hit than others.

It is clearly visible that the effects of the longstanding economic crisis and budgetary cuts are especially felt by families with low income. The most vulnerable families such as single-parent families, large families, families with young children and/or dependent relatives and migrant families are most likely to meet difficulties in the fulfilment of their role as educators and carers.

The support of targeted economic growth together with a fairer redistribution of wealth, accompanying specific measures aiming the most vulnerable, are complementary measures that will see all families and especially the most vulnerable through the crisis.

Feel free to leave a comment or say hello on Twitter @ananaesana

The fairytale story of family diversity

Families have always taken innumerable shapes and sizes in our society. And while we have all grown up knowing different types of family, unfortunately, not all are treated equally.

Pic Family Diversity

A few years ago I was moderator in a conference called The fairytale story of family diversity organised by the Spanish association UNAF. That conference looked at the multiple family models that are now a fact of life: single parent families, recomposed families, lgbt families, transnational families,… among others.

Family diversity is an undeniable reality today but is also evident throughout the history of humanity and even through fairytale’s stories. The fairy tales are often featured by non-traditional families as for example: Pinocchio, Little Red Riding Hood (belonging to single-parent families) or Cinderella and Snow White, whose families were recomposed… in reality there are many examples!

Today, transitions between family models during a person’s life are more and more frequent, reflecting entrenched gender inequalities in the family and greater freedom of self-determination.

One of the conclusions reached by the meeting was that while “reasonable” equality for families has been achieved in justice and education, inequalities remain and may even be getting worse in extreme cases since the onset of the crisis, which effectively “fosters family diversity”.

Traditional, single parent, recomposed, adoptive, lgtb, transnational… what makes a family is not the set-up but the warmth and quality of its members’ relations. ❤︎

Feel free to leave a comment or say hello on Twitter @ananaesana

My Digital Detox experience II

No phone. No Facebook. No Google Maps. Nothing with a screen for 48h. Just-real-life.

Pic Detox

I’m on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I post my pictures on Picasa, Instagram and Flickr. I am a Pinterest addict. I use Evernote, SlideShare. And now, I have a blog! I’m managing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube,, Flickr channels at work. I love Storify and live tweeting and chatting on Skype and WhatsApp. Our devices have become an inseparable member of the family. However, I think it is healthy to unplug from time to time. One of the best things about taking a digital detox is that it gets your face away from the screen, and in front of the friendly faces of your friends and family.

Last year I signed up for a 48h Digital Detox experience – a fundraising event for people who needed a break from technology (more about the campaign here and here). I received a letter with several surprises inside: A survival pack, an organic herbal tea, two recipes, a condom, a Post-it note pad and a pen. I must say that I enjoyed the experience a lot. I had the impression that those 48 hours were 96 and after that period I could feel the difference in my mind, feeling more relaxed.

Constant use of email, social media and news feeds can be damaging to one’s health, according to several recent studies. So, it is time to unplug! After posting this message, I’ll be living in the analogue world for 48h.

3, 2, 1… <logging off>

A culture of “freedom and responsibility”

A culture of freedom and responsibilityYou have probably read this summer that Netflix, the American provider of Internet streaming media, has introduced an unlimited leave policy for new moms and dads that allows them to take off as much time as they want during the first year after a child’s birth or adoption.

“We want employees to have the flexibility and confidence to balance the needs of their growing families without worrying about work or finances. Parents can return part-time, full-time, or return and then go back out as needed. We’ll just keep paying them normally, eliminating the headache of switching to state or disability pay. Each employee gets to figure out what’s best for them and their family, and then works with their managers for coverage during their absences”, announced Tawni Cranz, Netflix’s Chief Talent Officer.

Working parents in the U.S. are faced with a difficult reality from the moment their babies are born. New mothers can take 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act and taking a parental leave is unusual.

Keeping this situation in mind, we can conclude that Netflix is giving a revolutionary perk, with the company showing both current and potential employees how much it cares. The company suggests parents can come back to the office either part or full time, organizing their time as they wish during the first year. All paid of course.

Yahoo doubled its maternity and paternity leave in 2013 to make it more competitive with Facebook and Google. We are witnessing a shift in the working culture. Today, most workers would choose a better work-life balance over a salary rise. This is something that we have already noticed in the last years in Europe, and Netflix is following this trend. It’s a smart strategy: the company wants to keep the best talents on board.

I believe this is a fantastic initiative for at least, three reasons. First, it lowers gender discrimination in the recruitment process, where young women still face discrimination because of their potential motherhood and the role of primary carer they take later on. Second, it gives men a chance to get involved very early and actually frees up women to work and reducing the gender pay gap and subsequent gender pension gap. According to the Institute for Labor Market Policy in Sweden, a mother’s future earnings is increased by 7% every month the father stays on parental leave. And third, it also lowers the risk of poverty for the most vulnerable families such as single parents and large families.

Even though I applaud Netflix for this initiative for new parents, I think that work-life balance policies should be available to all workers regardless of the age of their children, since families’ needs for flexibility do not end after the first year after a child’s birth or adoption. Young children and teens may also need the attention and time of their parents during major life transitions, for which no “leave” is generally foreseen, apart from the regular paid vacation. One possible solution could be to complement the temporary leaves for both parents with a system of flexible time arrangement allowing them to continue their professional activity.

We are witnessing today significant changes in the way we work, collaborate and communicate. And this is precisely why we need a paradigm shift at work, as well as a family-friendly legal and policy environment.

Feel free to leave a comment or say hello on Twitter @ananaesana

Responsible consuming starts at home!

We often worry about the world that we are leaving to future generations. Our daily actions can have an impact, not only on our environment, but also on our children, who are so eager to follow our steps.

I would like to share with you the pictures I’ve made with my kids for the #SaveEnergyToday photo contest organised by the Coalition for Energy Savings in partnership with the European Commission’s DG Energy:

1. Let the sunshine in! Daylight is free

Let the sunshine in! Daylight is free #SaveEnergyToday

2. Freeze! Don’t stay frozen in front of the door

Freeze! Don’t stay frozen in front of the door #SaveEnergyToday

3. Risk of showers… The shorter the better!

Risk of showers... The shorter the better! #SaveEnergyToday

4. Too many lights? One plug to switch off them all!

Too many lights? One plug to switch off them all! #SaveEnergyToday

5. Clothes. Let the sun dry them for you!

Clothes. Let the sun dry them for you! #SaveEnergyToday

6. Bikes. The most entertaining way to save energy

Bikes. The most entertaining way to save energy. #SaveEnergyToday

7. Remove your charger on time… or you will be heavily charged!

Remove your charger on time… or you will be heavily charged! #SaveEnergyToday

8. The most economic bulb… is the one you don’t switch on!

The most economic bulb… is the one you don’t switch on! #SaveEnergyToday

I hope you enjoyed the pictures. Feel free to leave a comment or say hello on Twitter @ananaesana