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Pension Commission must end deep inequalities for women in Pensions

Published: Wednesday, April 21, 2021

In its presentation to the Pension Commission, the National Women’s Council (NWC) today called for urgent action to address the deep inequalities in our pension system for women, and for a universal State pension for all.

Currently, women account for only a third of those in receipt of a full State Contributory Pension even though women outnumber men among the over 65s.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWC said,

“Women are subjected to deep inequalities and discrimination in our pension system which is too closely linked to labour market participation. Many women are not eligible for the full State pension and do not have an occupational pension. Women are also more likely to provide unpaid care and to be in low paid, part time jobs on precarious contracts. Our pension system reinforces rather than mitigates gender inequalities and does not take into account additional barriers to the labour market faced for example by disabled women, carers, lone parents, Traveller women and migrant women.”

Orla O’Connor continued,

“As it stands, our pension system fails older women who were expected by Irish society to take on the full burden of caring responsibilities but whose contribution is not fully recognised by our social welfare system for pensions or other purposes. To ensure independent income for women in older years, NWC calls for the delivery of a universal State pension for all, benchmarked to 40% average earnings. This will guarantee income adequacy in older age and will recognise that paid work and unpaid work are equally valuable.”

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

“A principle concern for the NWC is the extension of working life and pension age. We do not want to see the pension age increased, as any measure that makes it harder for people to access a State Pension will disproportionately impact negatively on women who rely on the State Pension to a greater degree than men.”

Sandra McCullagh said,

“As the Pension Commission moves to address current pension inequalities, it is crucial that all of its recommendations are gender and equality proofed and that the Commission publishes a gender and equality impact statement. The Pension Commission must take this opportunity to develop a just and equal pension system. This system must ensure that every older person has an adequate income to protect against poverty and can live with dignity and independence in their older years.”

Read NWC’s Submission to the Pension Commission here


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