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Citizens’ Assembly – State investment in care is key for women’s equality

Published: Saturday, January 16, 2021

Presenting to the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality today (Saturday, 16th January) which focused on the topic of ‘Care’, the National Women’s Council (NWC) highlighted the gendered nature of care as a key reason for women’s inequality. NWC called for sustained investment in public services as the most effective way to tackle persistent gender inequalities.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWC said,

 “Care is central to our society. At some point in all our lives we will give and receive care. Never have we so clearly seen the importance of care than we are currently experiencing in the Covid-19 crisis. The reality is that it is women who are providing the vast majority of care whether it’s paid or unpaid.  This has a significant impact on women's lives and on the decisions that women can take in their lives. It's one of the reasons for gender inequality in our society.

 The reality is also that we have seen through decades a minimum level of State involvement and State support for care. As a result, it has been left to women within families to provide care or to the private market to provide care often at a high cost with a very undervalued and underpaid workforce. Six in ten of early years workers are paid below the minimum wage. Domestic and personal care workers are often reliant on very precarious contracts and are vulnerable to exploitation. The majority of the workers are migrant women.”

She said,

“To tackle the gendered nature of care, sustained and significant investment into our public services is needed. This must include the development of a comprehensive public model of Early Years and Out of School Hours care. We also must develop and invest in universal social care services for older people and disabled people across our lifespan so that people can live autonomous lives in the way they want to.”

NWC also called for an amendment to Art. 41.2 of the Constitution that replaces the current wording referencing 'women in the home' with an inclusive, gender neutral statement that enshrines the value of care to our society. NWC understands that this particular issue will be discussed further at the next meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly.


For more information, please contact Silke Paasche, NWC, Tel. 085 858 9104.