Major Human Rights Hearing highlights fundamental policy gaps on care
Published: Tuesday, May 30, 2023
On Tuesday 30th May a Human Rights Hearing on care will bring together women carers, Irish politicians and national and international experts to examine how to improve policy and practices on care. The event, organised by ActionAid Ireland and National Women’s Council, taking place in the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, will put central the experiences of marginalised women in Ireland.
The Human Rights Hearing will hear expert witnesses from women of different backgrounds on how care, and particularly unpaid care, is organised in Ireland and the impact this has on their lives.
In Ireland 45% of women and 29% of men provide care for others on a daily basis, the gap between women and men’s hours of unpaid work is particularly wide in Ireland compared to other European countries.
Shelly Gaynor, Peer Mentor with Independent Living Movement Ireland, who will testify at the hearing said: “It’s important to remember that everyone, whether disabled or not, is going to need some form of care or assistance at some point in their lives. As a disabled person, I don’t consider that I need care, I need assistance. Care is very medical; I would like to think that we work on the social model. I believe we need to look at the word care, what it means and how that impacts service provision. To do everyday tasks like dressing or washing, what we need is personal assistance, but in 2023 because of how society is organised, many of my disabled friends still can’t access assistance services. It shouldn’t have to be seen as a major achievement to get out of bed and get showered, life is for living not just existing – for many disabled people the best way of achieving this is through a personal assistance service.”
Orla O’Connor, Director National Women’s Council said: “Care is fundamental to the human experience and to the wellbeing of our society. Yet, so far, the State has failed to properly value, recognise and support care and instead has delegated responsibility to individuals - mostly women - and an underpaid and undervalued, predominantly female workforce.
The upcoming referendum is a historic opportunity to move away from the current hands-off approach to care by the State and instead lead a national conversation on the values and principles that we want to see shape our shared future and policies. It is our chance to ensure those who provide care can do so with dignity and with the proper support, including adequate pay and working conditions for the paid workers and recognition and support for unpaid carers. And it is our opportunity to ensure those who need care have dignity and choice when it comes to the support they need to live their lives independently.”
Karol Balfe, CEO of ActionAid Ireland said: “Today’s Human Rights Hearing highlights how this is a deeply gendered issue, both in Ireland and globally. Globally women do 76% of unpaid care work; 90% of nurses are women and 70% of healthcare staff are women. States are failing to protect women’s rights, particularly in their failure to provide adequate, appropriate and accessible public services that really work for women. When public services are underfunded there is a triple disadvantage for women, who disproportionally lose access to services, lose opportunities for decent work and take on the rising burden of unpaid care work. We need a bigger vision of a feminist, just alternative and an agenda that builds economies and societies based on care for both people and the planet.”
The Human Rights Hearing is funded through a grant awarded to ActionAid Ireland and National Women’s Council by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission for a collaborative project that seeks to advance greater economic equality in care by informing policy and practice on human rights-based solutions to care.
What: Human Rights Hearing on Care
When: 30 May, 9:30am
Where: IHREC, Green St, Dublin 7
ActionAid Ireland and the National Women’s Council were awarded a grant from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission for a collaborative project that seeks to advance greater economic equality in care by informing policy and practice on human rights-based solutions to care.
The purpose of this human rights hearing is to bring together women carers, Irish politicians and national and international experts to examine how to improve policy and practices on care. The format of the hearing is to first listen to the testimonies of marginalised women in Ireland and then the responses from national and international experts to what they have heard.
Organisations with representatives giving testimony on the day will include the Great Care Co-Op, a social enterprise that offers a whole-person approach to senior and elderly care; Independent Living Ireland, which is led by disabled people and promotes a rights-based social model of disability; and Doras Bui, a parents alone resource centre. The event will also hear from women with intellectual disabilities and who have experienced the Direct Provision system.
The human rights verdict will be deliberated Ivana Bacik TD; Huma Haq, Social Care Organiser, Public Services International, the Global Union of Federation of Workers in Public Services, who fight for the public provision of quality care services: for the benefit of those in need and the workers involved; Diane Elson, economist and leading academic on care work and Wangari Kinoti, Global Lead for Women’s Rights and Feminist Alternatives at ActionAid International.
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.
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
ActionAid works with women and children who are excluded and live in poverty, as they take the lead in claiming their human rights, and changing unfair systems at community, national and international levels, so that they can live safe lives and access food, education, and healthcare. Find out more at www.actionaid.ie