Budget 2021: A perfect opportunity to address gender justice

Budget 2021: A perfect opportunity to address gender justice

Achieving Gender Justice - our Pre-budget Submission recommendations

The coronavirus crisis has once again revealed that care work – which is often unpaid – is a “hidden engine”, one that keeps the figurative wheels of our economy and society turning. It is driven by women and girls who remain trapped at the bottom of the economic ladder because they have little or no time to earn a decent living, become active in their communities, or even have a say in how their societies are run. In Ireland and beyond, paid and unpaid care work is still highly gendered and undervalued – both financially and societally. Many care workers are still paid poverty wages.

Across the world, women and girls do more than three-quarters of unpaid care work and make up two-thirds of the paid care workforce. They carry out 12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work every day. When valued at the minimum wage, this would represent a contribution to the global economy of at least $10.8 trillion a year, more than three times the size of the global tech industry.

Like the global situation, care work in Ireland – both paid and unpaid – is highly gendered and undervalued in terms of pay and recognition. Provision of care services, such as childcare and care for older people, by the State is relatively low, leaving households to provide these services themselves or to source them from the market, if they can afford it.

The crisis has also highlighted the importance of low-wage workers, deemed essential during the pandemic. As many of 82 percent of all cashiers are women. Women were also on the frontlines in hospitals and clinics, with females accounting for 76 percent of healthcare workers in the EU alone. Women are also more likely to care for the sick and elderly in their own homes. Throughout this pandemic, women have put their families and society first – but have received little in terms of economic reward or societal recognition.

The COVID-19 pandemic has once again shown us the value of women and carers to our society.

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