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Budget 2024 extraordinary opportunity to tackle systemic inequalities for women: NWC

Published: Monday, June 12, 2023

Ahead of the National Economic Dialogue (NED), the National Women’s Council (NWC) has said that the Budget 2024 surplus presents an extraordinary opportunity for government to invest in long-term, sustainable measures which would tackle the systemic inequalities that women experience.  

The cost-of-living crisis, austerity, and the pandemic have all hit women harder than men. Women have lower incomes, less wealth, and more unpaid care responsibilities. Single parents, the vast majority of whom are women, are particularly affected by these inequalities, as are many other marginalised women including Traveller women, migrant women and disabled women. 

Speaking ahead of the NED, NWC’s Head of Campaigns Rachel Coyle said:  

“There is an opportunity now to correct the economic decisions which led to such deep inequalities for women. Now is the time to invest in public services and infrastructure. The lack of accessible, affordable, quality childcare remains one of the biggest obstacles to women’s equal participation in society. We call on the Government to deliver a public, not for profit childcare model. International research clearly shows that this model is best in ensuring access to childcare for parents and adequate pay and working conditions for the childcare workforce. Equally, we must see investment in a universal State pension as the best way to ensure equality and an adequate income for women in old age.” 

In addition to childcare and a universal pension, NWC’s calls include an increase in the overall pension and social protection rates; the implementation of Sláintecare; supports for all forms of care work; supports to end domestic, sexual and gender-based violence; and gender and poverty-proofed climate action.  

NWC is disappointed to hear proposals to cut income tax. Tax cuts will not benefit the many women who are in low paid, part time and precarious employment, including the almost 50% of the female workforce that earn less than €20,000 a year. Plus, tax cuts only ever benefit those who work, leaving behind the many women who cannot take up paid employment due to unpaid caring responsibilities. Any budget decision must consider gendered impacts such as these.  

NWC’s Women’s Economic Equality Coordinator Donal Swan said:  

“For too long, the Irish economy has flown high on the back of unpaid care work carried out by women. Instead of tax cuts, women need investment in services and supports. Ahead of November’s referendum on equality and care, government must recognise that public service provision is vital to women’s equal participation in society.” 

Mr Swan continued:  

“Long term sustainable measures, not one-off payments, are needed to address systemic inequality. The current windfall is not predictably assured for the future, and that makes this moment pivotal. Now is exactly the time to invest in the future – now is the opportunity to finally build a resilient, sustainable social infrastructure for the Ireland of 2030 and beyond.” 


For comment: Rachel Coyle and Donal Swan 

For more information, please contact Sinéad Nolan, NWC Communications and Social Media Coordinator on sineadn@nwci.ie 

About NWC  

The National Women’s Council is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. We have over 190 member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters. 

This year we celebrate 50 years since our foundation with a special calendar of events and campaigns. 

The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work.  

We are a movement-building organisation rooted in our membership, working on the whole island of Ireland. We are also part of the international movement to protect and advance women’s and girls’ rights. Our purpose is to lead action for the achievement of women’s and girls’ equality through mobilising, influencing, and building solidarity. Find out more on www.nwci.ie