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National Women’s Council calls for better paid family leave and a Universal State Pension

Published: Friday, December 04, 2020

Ahead of its presentation to the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality which will be continuing the focus on the topic ‘Women and Work’ tomorrow, the National Women’s Council (NWC) today (4 December) highlighted the importance of investing in better paid family leave and a Universal State pension.

Sandra McCullagh, Women’s Economic Equality Coordinator with NWC said,

“The unequal sharing of caring responsibilities between women and men continues to significantly impact women’s working lives. Paid parental leave is a key support to help parents balance work and family life. The value of paid leave in Ireland, across maternity, paternity and parental leave schemes, is far behind our EU peers. Germany for example, provides paid leave at the equivalent of 73% of the average wage; Ireland compares unfavourably at 27% of the average wage. Uptake of Parent’s Leave in Ireland is low among fathers and one of the reasons for this is the low rate of the payment. The National Women’s Council is recommending an increase to the duration of paid Parents leave to 26 weeks, or 52 weeks for lone parents, as well an increase in the rate of Maternity, Paternity and Parents Benefit to € 295 per week.”

She continued,

“Women are more likely to provide care and to be in low paid, part time jobs on precarious contracts, making it difficult to be eligible for the full State pension or to have an occupational pension. Our pension system does not address the inequalities and discrimination experienced by older women who were expected by Irish society to shoulder the full burden of caring responsibilities but whose contribution is not fully recognised by our social welfare system for pensions or other purposes. NWC believes the best way to ensure income adequacy for all in old age is to introduce a universal State Pension. We also need to acknowledge the vital contribution of women’s work by legislating for a full and retrospective Homecare credit to support women to access a full pension.”

In its recommendations to the citizens this weekend, NWC will also be calling for individual access to the social welfare system, benchmarking social welfare payments to the Minimum Essential Standard of Living (MESL) and for the introduction of a Participation Income to explicitly acknowledge the value of care.

NWC understands that other critical areas for gender equality, such as care and childcare, will be dealt with during subsequent meetings of the Citizens’ Assembly and NWC looks forward to engaging on these issues with the members of the Citizens’ Assembly.


For more information, please contact Silke Paasche, Head of Communications, National Women’s Council, Tel. 085 858 9104.