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Women are at breaking point – Reopening of Primary and Secondary Schools must be Government Priority

Published: Friday, February 12, 2021

The National Women’s Council (NWC) has today called on the Government to prioritise the full reopening of both primary and secondary schools, in a way that supports the safety of both workers and students, as women are now at crisis point due to continued school closures.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWC said,

“The Covid-19 pandemic has hit women hard and we are now at a critical stage where the NWC is being contacted daily by women who are at breaking point. While primary and secondary schools remain closed, women continue to be disproportionately affected by increased childcare responsibilities."

She continued,

"Women across the country are struggling to provide full time care to children at home while doing their paid work from home or on the frontline. While primary and secondary schools remain closed, the loss of formal supports, such as support services for disabled people and loss of informal care supports previously provided by grandparents and others has compounded the pressure on women to manage childcare. Isolated by the pandemic, women parenting alone are experiencing significant childcare difficulties without support."

Orla O’Connor concluded,

"It is critical that the reopening of both primary and secondary schools is prioritised by the Government now, as women are at the end of their tether as they continue to provide additional childcare and home schooling while closures remain in place. The Government must urgently make decisions on the safe reopening of primary and secondary schools in the interests of students, workers and parents. The restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic have exposed the deep structural inequality of care in our society, where women in Ireland continue to provide the vast majority of care. Data published by the CSO indicates that women accounted for 94% of those looking after home or family in 2019. As a society when we move into recovery phase, we urgently need to address this inequality which requires public investment in care and a redistribution of care responsibilities between women and men.”


For more information, please contact Laura Pakenham, Digital Communications Officer, National Women’s Council (NWC), Tel. 085 8619087, laurap@nwci.ie