Launch of NWCI Pre-Budget Submission We’re still waiting…for women to get a fair share!!!
Published: Monday, November 05, 2001
'We want this budget to move women out of poverty and put more money their pockets' stated Gráinne Healy, Chairwoman of the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI). 'Women are the largest group of those who have been excluded from our economic prosperity' she continued. 'Women on social welfare, lone parents, older women, rural women in small-holdings, Travellers, those with disabilities, asylum-seekers and refugees have benefited very little during the boom years. Households headed by lone parents and by older women remain at high risk of poverty. Women continue to be very highly represented in low-paid, part-time employment' declared Ms. Healy.
- Remove all of those on the minimum wage from the tax net.
'The reconciliation of work and family life is critical to gender equality' said Ms. Healy. She stated that the absence of family friendly policies and the lack of support in paying for childcare make it difficult for women to remain in paid work, have real choices regarding work options or to improve their pay and promotional opportunities. 'The vast majority of parents are unable to avail of parental leave because it is currently unpaid and highly restrictive. The introduction of paid parental leave and paternity leave would reduce the gap between Ireland and its EU partners. The NWCI believes that, in the longer term, the most effective way to solve the childcare crisis is to establish a state subsidised childcare system. However, immediate financial supports are required to support parents to pay for childcare' she added.
- Introduce a social insurance payment for parental leave at the rate of the existing Maternity Benefit Payment.
- Increase Child Benefit by £25 per week.
'According to the National Anti-Poverty Strategy (October 2001), actions to reduce poverty will also contribute to reducing health inequalities' stated Ms Healy. She explained that the link between poverty and ill health is well established and that women frequently put the health of their family before their own health. She went on to say that breast cancer is the most common non-skin cancer among women in Ireland. 'One in 13 Irish women will develop the disease in their lifetime (National Cancer Registry, Ireland). Irish women's risk of developing breast cancer is 20 -30% above the EU average (Women's Health Council, Picture of Health, 1999)' said Ms Healy.
- Establish a free, national breast and cervical screening programme for all teenage girls and women.
- Extend medical cards to all dependent children under 18.
- Medical card eligibility levels should be set at levels, which ensure that the earnings of all those on a national minimum wage fall within eligibility thresholds.
Other recommendations in the NWCI Pre-Budget submission include:
- Increasing Social Welfare rates;
- Recognition of Caring;
- Supporting women to return to employment;
- Funding for the women's sector;
- Supporting women to access education;
- Increased funding for work on violence against women;
- Recognition of the cost of disability;
- Equal treatment for asylum seekers in the social welfare system.