The foreign woman at home

It is very difficult to imagine what Greece would be like had it not taken in a million immigrants over the past 17 years. Since the mass migration began, the countryside has been revived, major infrastructure projects were built with imported labor and the social security funds received lifesaving infusions from new members of the labor force. But the real revolution has taken place where it is invisible: in our homes. Foreign women – many from countries we knew nothing of until the collapse of the East bloc – were suddenly propelled into the hitherto hermetic Greek household. Women who often had left their own children behind began to raise ours. Daughters who had left their own parents behind took care of our elderly. They saved our old folk from miserable old-age homes and allowed many Greek women to remain in the labor market. «Foreign women» became the companions of our parents and children. In this way, both parents in Greek families could work, without one being «sacrificed» for the sake of the children or the elderly. Couples were able to have more children than they could have coped with had they not received this unexpected help. Women who had left their homes and husbands found themselves mopping floors even though 26.5 percent of them had tertiary education, as a study by the Research Center for Equality (KETHI) showed yesterday. These 500,000 women brought both their labor and their skills to Greece. There is no excuse for useless bureaucracy, for employers who do not pay social security dues and weak-willed politicians who allow problems to fester. The immigrants have become family members. As KETHI’s study notes, one in 10 immigrant women has married a member of another ethnic group – a Greek in 90 percent of these cases. The migration has given Greeks and immigrants alike a second chance for happiness.