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Care is the crucial missing piece for women’s equality and broader society: NWC

Published: Tuesday, March 07, 2023

As people across the country celebrate women and women’s achievements, the National Women’s Council (NWC) has called on government to hold a referendum on Article 41.2.  The organisation, which is 50 years in existence this year, says a referendum is necessary to remove this outdated and sexist language from the Constitution and replace it with a gender-neutral definition which enshrines the value of care. 

NWC Director Orla O’Connor said: 

“Care is one of the issues which we have worked on since our 1973 inception. As a society, we must start properly valuing care. That means having decent pay and working conditions for carers and a social welfare system that ensures they have an adequate standard of living. It means supporting women and men to combine unpaid care with paid employment through better, paid family leave and accessible, affordable, quality childcare. And it means meeting the support needs of disabled people of all ages, of older people, and of people with illnesses.” 

Alongside care, NWC has named violence against women, the lack of political representation, economic inequality, and lack of access to healthcare as the key concerns for women this International Women’s Day. NWC will hold a series of events to mark the day and raise awareness of these concerns, as well as the solutions. This includes the installation of a new mural to highlight violence against women at third-level in NCAD, alongside the launch of a video exploring what changes young feminists want to see over the next 50 years.   

Women make up just 22% of the Dáil, a statistic which places Ireland below China and Iraq for women’s representation. The gender pay gap has increased to 12.6%, according to the latest figures, with the migrant gender pay gap at 30%. 94% of people whose main occupation is looking after the home or family are women. Gardaí receive a call every ten minutes about domestic abuse or violence.  

And regarding healthcare, disadvantaged women die younger. We know that 12 women a week are still travelling for abortion care and that 1 in 5 experience mental health difficulties during pregnancy or post-birth.  

There are solutions to each of these barriers to women’s equality. The government must prioritise them for real gender equality.  

To end violence against women, government must resource and implement the Zero Tolerance Strategy, starting with providing enough refuge beds to meet the demand. To arrive at equal representation, gender quotas must be extended to local elections and boards, and be matched by family-friendly policies. Government must provide public affordable childcare, and address the issues of lone parent poverty and pension inequality in order to end economic inequality for women. NWC also wants to see the expansion of access to abortion and free contraception alongside a referendum on care this year.  


For comment: Orla O’Connor 

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

The It Stops Now mural, a collaboration between NWC and USI, will be installed on Monday 6 March from 10am at NCAD.  

Find here a full programme of NWC events to mark IWD: https://www.nwci.ie/learn/article/international_womens_day_with_nwc 

Find here a video on the changes young women want to see over the next 50 years: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXoc4iwjJt4



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