Despite progress, political and economic systems continue to favour men over women, says Oxfam Ireland

Despite progress, political and economic systems continue to favour men over women, says Oxfam Ireland


  • Hidden care work: The female engine that props up our economies and societies
  • Oxfam Ireland publish their submission to the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality

Read Oxfam Ireland’s full Submission to the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality

Over reliance on undervalued care work and gender segregation of the labour market stems from outmoded social norms and assigned gender roles, Oxfam Ireland said today as they published their submission to the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality ahead of International Women’s Day 2020.

After more than 70 years of campaigning and advocating with women and communities for gender equality in over 90 countries, Oxfam’s submission draws on their learning and expertise to detail how Ireland can progress towards achieving gender equality on a global scale.

Oxfam Irelands’ Submission gives recommendations on:

  • Gender responsive budgeting
  • Gender pay gap
  • Gender Equality in leadership and participation
  • Gender equality in the care economy
  • Gender equality in development and aid

Despite Ireland’s work towards achieving gender equality in recent years, the gender pay gap remains an issue, and female employment rates are slightly lower than the European average – something that should be considered against the backdrop of Ireland’s relatively low level of state funding for subsidised childcare and the lack of investment in childcare infrastructure.

Childcare costs in Ireland are among the highest in the EU – young families can pay the price of a second monthly rent or mortgage for crèches, which can limit or impede a woman’s choice to return to work or pursue employment in certain fields or professions.

In addition, women in Ireland are over-represented in the low paid sector, can be working reduced hours due to care responsibilities and are also more likely to have to leave paid employment to fulfil unpaid care work of children or elderly dependents. This in turn results in reduced benefits and pension contributions – creating a pension gap - possibly extending cycles of financial insecurity or poverty into retirement age.

The responsibility for caring in Ireland is deeply gendered and severely unbalanced. Oxfam Ireland estimates that in Ireland, women’s unpaid care work contributes at least €24 billion to the economy every year - the equivalent of 12.3 percent of the entire annual Irish economy.

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland, said:

“The roots of the gender pay gap in Ireland run deep. It will require commitments from multiple stakeholders, and collaboration across all sectors, if the gap is to be closed. Gender segregation of the labour market stems from outmoded social norms and assigned gender roles - harmful stereotypes that devalue the role of women in society and the economy.

“A gender responsive budget is one that works for everyone, not just women. Equality budgeting requires investment in care systems rather than relying on women’s unpaid, or often under paid care work. The allocation of funding and resources to vital services like healthcare, education and childcare – will provide supports to people who need it most and help to mitigate the effects of the care crisis, while tackling gender inequality.

“Gender equality is not just the concern of women; it is the concern of everyone. Tackling it is one of the most effective ways of achieving positive economic and social outcomes for everyone in society. Increased investment in childcare, healthcare, and education can reduce the burden of unpaid work on women and create pathways to increased economic, civic and political participation, thereby helping to close the pay and pension gaps, and increase gender equality in Ireland and around the globe.”



Caroline Reid,, +353 (0)87 912 3165


Read Oxfam Ireland’s full Submission to the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality

  • The Economic and Social Research Institute published a report that revealed that there is a gender pension gap of 35 percent in Ireland.
  • A gender responsive budget requires an analysis of government budgets from a gender perspective - including how they respond to outmoded gender norms and roles. It is the active gathering of information across multiple budgetary areas including health, education, income to see how their impact may differ depending on gender, ethnicity or age.
  • Gender quotas can be used as an effective tool in the fight against gender inequality. In certain contexts, such as business or politics where progression of gender equality is slow, the utilisation of gender quotas have proven successful and have helped to diversify landscapes – Irish politics being one. However, the structural inequalities that prevents or restricts women from taking up leadership positions across all spheres including economic, social, and political need to be addressed.
  • When talking gender equality, international development cooperation and humanitarian action is no exception – it needs to be adapted accordingly. Successful aid ensures that gender justice is at its heart. A feminist approach to foreign policy and official development assistance will help to tackle the root causes of gender inequality, discrimination against women, girls and other minorities and challenge existing patriarchal power structures that have benefited men whilst discriminating against women and girls globally.
  • ‘4R’s’ framework that takes into account the principles of:
  • Recognition of unpaid and poorly paid care work as a type of work or production that has real value
  • Reduction of the total number of hours spent on unpaid caring through access to affordable and quality time-saving devices and care-supporting infrastructure
  • Redistribution of unpaid care work more fairly within the household but also in shifting the responsibility of unpaid care work to the state and the private sector
  • Representing the most marginalised caregivers to ensure that they have a voice in the design and delivery of policies, systems and services that affect their lives.


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