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Women call for pension justice ahead of Budget 2022

Published: Friday, October 01, 2021

“We're not sitting in our corner knitting” - Women call for pension justice ahead of Budget 2022

NWC launches #PensionJustice campaign for an adequate income for all in older age

 “I know many, many people, who have been caring most of their lives. And like, they're not entitled to a pension at the end of that. That is so, so wrong, because that is the most demanding and the most difficult job anybody could do. And it saves the State millions of euros.”  Mary, Kerry

“I do hope that the Government Ministers, when they get this, that they will sit up and listen to it. We're not sitting in our corner knitting.” Liz, Kilkenny

 “There's a lot to be shifted there. If they’re going to improve for women, Traveller women, Roma women, that they shouldn’t have to be worrying.” Missy, Dublin

“Some women were living in really bad circumstances, and living in fear that they couldn't pay a bill.” Gladys O’Neill, Dublin

Quotes from women featured in NWC #PensionJustice video

Marking International Day for Older Persons today (1st October 2021), the National Women’s Council launched its #PensionJustice campaign for an adequate income for all in older age.

Ahead of Budget 2022 and in anticipation of the publication of the Pension Commission report, NWC called on the Government to introduce an adequate universal State Pension and to end the structural inequalities and discrimination against women in our pension system.

As part of the campaign, NWC published an online video featuring four women who powerfully speak about the inequality and discrimination they have experienced in the Irish pension system which still affects younger women today.

As women have greater unpaid care responsibilities and are more likely to be in low paid, part time or precarious work, it is more difficult to qualify for the full pension.

  • On average, women have 29% less pension income than men.
  • Women account for only 33% of those in receipt of a full State Contributory Pension even though women outnumber men among the over 65’s.
  • Only 28% of women of pension age have an occupational or private pension compared to 55% of men.
  • Older rural women, disabled women, carers, lone parents, Traveller women and other women who encounter additional barriers to the labour market are even less likely to have an occupational or contributory pension.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWC said,

“Women are rightfully angered at the inaction of Government over decades to address the structural inequalities and discrimination against women in our pension system. Based on a completely outdated male-breadwinner model, our pension system is not fit for purpose and needs urgent structural reform. Women’s care work needs to be recognised and valued the same as any paid employment. The starting point must be a Government commitment to develop a fully individualised, universal State pension as the best way to ensure an adequate income for all in old age.”

Sandra McCullagh, Women’s Equality Coordinator, NWC said

 “The women in our #PensionJustice campaign are clearly highlighting outstanding legacy issues that need to be addressed urgently. The State has a particular responsibility to remedy the inequality experienced by women affected by the marriage bar. While there have been some efforts to recognise care in our pensions system, only some women have been able to benefit. We are calling on the Government to remove the 20-year cap on caring contributions and to allow women born before 1946 to access the Homemakers and HomeCaring Periods Scheme as a matter of urgency.”

Sandra McCullagh concluded,

“While the narrative of a pensions timebomb prevails, spending on social protection in Ireland is well below average, driven by much lower spending on ‘old-age’ than the European average. It is unacceptable to expect women to continue to pay the price for the Government’s failure to ensure a fair pension system for all.”

Watch NWC’s #PensionJustice video 

Further analysis and references for statistics quoted in this press release can be found in NWC’s Pre Budget Submission 2022 – A Care Economy for a Fair Economy – Investing and Delivering for Women in Budget 2022 


For more information or to organise an interview with NWC or one of the women featured in the video, please contact Laura Pakenham, Communications Officer, NWC. Tel. 085 861 9087 or laurap@nwci.ie.