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Time is running out to address women’s poverty

Published: Monday, September 17, 2001

One in every four women in Ireland raising children or managing households on their own will experience poverty despite our economic boom.(ESRI 2000)

'As more people move out of poverty in Ireland there is an increasing feminisation of poverty in which the groups at most risk of poverty are predominantly composed of women' declared Orla O'Connor, Policy Analyst with the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI). 'Women and children are getting left behind in the move towards eliminating poverty' she added. 'Women living alone, female lone parents and older women are particularly at risk of poverty. Time is running out to address women's poverty as the government will be finalising the National Anti-Poverty Strategy (NAPS) plan at the end of October' she continued. She went on to say that to date in the NAPS process:

  • No targets have been set for women's poverty.
  • No targets established to provide quality, affordable and accessible care for children and the elderly.
  • There are inadequate measures for women returners.
  • There are insufficient measures for women on low income to access education and training.
  • There is nothing on individualisation of the social welfare system.
  • There are no measures to move older women out of poverty.
  • There is no reference to women who experience violence in the home.

Ms. O'Connor declared that if NAPS is to be a successful and effective strategy and tool to eradicate poverty, global targets to eliminate poverty for women must be established, so that:

  • by 2010 eliminate income poverty for households headed by women, namely lone parents, older people, women working in the home so that no female headed households are living below the 50% poverty line.
  • by 2006, eliminate consistent poverty for women headed households.

'In order to reach these targets, sub targets must be established in the short term in relation to childcare, employment, health, community education and violence against women' asserted Ms. O'Connor.

'In its forthcoming report on NAPS, the EU will be highly critical of the failure of the Irish government to develop any coherent plan to address poverty in general and women's poverty in particular' concluded Ms. O'Connor.