Urgent structural reforms for women and equality still missing in Budget 2022
Published: Wednesday, November 10, 2021
The National Women’s Council (NWC) today (Wednesday, 10th November) launched the preliminary findings of its analysis of Budget 2022 from a women’s equality perspective. While welcoming some positive measures for women in Budget 2022, NWC called for much more ambitious action and investment that would tackle the structural inequalities that women experience.
The analysis carried out by TASC was presented and discussed at a public webinar with speakers including Amie Lajoie, TASC, Robert Sweeney, TASC, Maria Jikijela, the Great Care Coop, Clare Austick, Union of Students in Ireland, Kuxi Ghai, S.P.A.R.K, Shelly Gaynor, Independent Living Movement Ireland, Alexandra Brennan, Northern Ireland Women's Budget Group and Orla O'Connor, National Women's Council.
Budget 2022 is the first budget of Ireland's post-Covid economic recovery. With borrowing costs so low and tax receipts better than expected, Ireland has space to implement ambitious policies aimed at tackling gender inequality. However, progress on gender proofing budgetary policy has, to date, been disappointing.
Orla O’Connor, Director of NWC said,
“The impact of Budget 2022 is more of the same. There were some welcome allocations of funding to several key areas in relation to women’s issues – for example, investments for women’s health including free contraception for women aged 17-25, funding for the continued implementation of the National Maternity Strategy and welcome increases in funding for childcare. However, piecemeal supports offered by Budget 2022 are not sufficient to address the challenges of poverty, housing and mental health that impact disproportionately on women. Budget 2021 also failed to deliver the public services and social infrastructure needed to tackle the wide-ranging structural inequalities that women experience.”
Robert Sweeney from TASC that carried out the analysis for NWC said,
“Overall our analysis shows that Budget 2022 is unlikely to improve gender economic inequality, with lone parents likely to be worse off. There is also the possibility that the gender pay gap will widen as a result of the pandemic. Women are slightly more represented in wage subsidy supports, and may be at high risk of unemployment when such supports expire unless they are supported into decent employment. The increase in the minimum wage is insufficient to maintain the living standards of those trying to survive on low pay and is at odds with the government’s commitment to move toward a Living Wage. The impact will be disproportionately felt by women.”
Robert Sweeney, continued,
“Despite increased funding in Budget 2022, funding for childcare remains inadequate - at the current rate it would take several decades for spending to reach 1% of national income, the target set by UNICEF. Ireland will remain one of the, if not the least generous funders of the early years sector in the EU.”
Amie Lajoie from TASC said,
“On the whole, Budget 2022 made some welcome funding decisions in relation to women’s health, and in particular reproductive health. However, mental health has been traditionally a significantly under-resourced area of healthcare service provision in Ireland. We fear that this will have a continued disproportionate impact on women’s mental health needs, especially for those who rely on public provision.”
Orla O’Connor, Director of NWC said,
“With the spotlight on domestic violence during the pandemic and the Government commitments in the 2020 Programme for Government to address the ‘epidemic’ of violence against women, we had hoped that Budget 2022 would deliver specific lines of expenditure to tackle domestic violence and coercive control. However, increases in funding do not match the scale of the problem.
We call on the Government to clearly prioritise gender and equality proofing of budgetary decisions so that public spending promotes equality. Comprehensive gender budgeting must encompass equality for diverse groups of women and men. It must take into account how intersecting oppression and discrimination impacts on women’s experiences of a policy or budgetary decision.”
For more information, please contact Silke Paasche, Head of Communications, NWC, Tel. 085 858 9104.