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Ireland: Women and children are suffering under austerity, EWL members NWCI say

(Dublin 12 September)
Women and children are suffering under austerity
Women and children have been mostly affected by austerity measures over the past years. National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) calls for a different policy direction in its presentation of its Pre-Budget Submission 2014 to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance today.

Ann Irwin, Policy Officer with NWCI said, “Austerity is not working. Previous Budgets have severely impacted on women, families and children, particularly those on low income. This is causing enormous hardship for many and decreasing the economy’s ability to grow and recover. In Budget 2014, we need to see a different direction; one that places the burden of taxation on those most able to pay and proofs Budget measures to ensure those who have already suffered most are protected. ”

She continued, “Increasing the number of women in the labour force is critical for recovery. For that we need to ensure that the prerequisites are in place. Early childhood care and education is one of these and is also important for the early education and development of the child. We are calling for a multi-annual investment into early childhood care and education that is accessible and affordable and emphasises the quality of care, including the training and upskilling of staff. Out of schools hours care is as important and we need to see investment in this area. This type of investment will reap dividends because if will facilitate increased economic participation of women and enhanced outcomes for children.”

She added, “But we also need to ensure that work pays. It is a false economy to say that cutting wages at the lowest levels will save in the long term. We need to at least maintain current rates of pay. In addition we need to recognise the role that social welfare plays in supporting those, mostly women, in part-time and casual employment and we are calling on the Department of Social Protection to recognise atypical work patterns by calculating unemployment on the basis of hours rather than days per week.”

She concluded, “In designing Budget 2014, the Government will be faced with a set of choices. We are calling on the government to assess the social and economic impact on vulnerable people, in particular women and children, before making Budget 2014 decisions.”

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