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Saturday 15 December 2018

Half a million women in unpaid care roles - and just 9,000 men

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Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

An overwhelming 98pc of carers and those carrying out household duties are female, startling statistics reveal.

Campaigners are now calling for more flexibility for female workers to address the massive discrepancy.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) released data showing the differences between the lives of men and women in Ireland over recent years.

The statistics show that in the past decade the vast majority of those caring for children, the disabled, elderly relatives, or taking on household chores, are women.

Since 2006, the number of men taking on caring roles and unpaid work in the home has nearly doubled from 4,900 to 9,200.

But women are still taking on such "traditional" roles in far greater numbers, with 445,500 looking after the home and family.

Women are more likely to have a third-level qualification than men, with more than 55.1pc of females aged 25 to 34 having a degree or equivalent compared to 42.9pc of men.

However, it appears they are still more likely to miss out on career progression.

Some 67.8pc of men are in the labour force and working on average 39.7 hours a week, compared to 51.5pc of women working on average 31.7 hours.

Read More: Equality can be achieved with a healthy work-life balance - for all of us

The research found that men significantly outnumbered women in all national decision-making structures, including the Dáil where just 22.2pc are women.

On average, female employees were paid 13.9pc an hour less than male employees in Ireland in 2014.

Women are being "discriminated" against not just in the workplace, but for future contributory State pensions, Family Carers Ireland warned.

Catherine Cox, spokeswoman for Family Carers Ireland, said: "Women are definitely being placed at a financial and social disadvantage, as they are the majority of carers and therefore they have to leave work, or miss out on promotions.

"Even when they go back to work, they've missed out on training and career progression, so they're set back in the workplace.

"Finally when it comes to retirement, they often don't have enough stamps to get a contributory State pension.


"Women need to be provided with flexi working hours, to be able to work from home, and for caring roles to be recognised as work to allow women to claim pensions, as they are currently being discriminated against."

Rita O'Reilly, CEO of Parentline, said 84pc of callers to the group are women and some were "isolated and lonely".

"They feel they're stuck there in this role and last summer I noticed a lot of rural women who are at home with children, saying how much they craved adult company," she said.

Director of the National Women's Council of Ireland Orla O'Connor said the data was "critical" to shape future Government policy and budgets because it revealed "strong gender segregation" perseveres in Irish society.

The group called for paid parental leave; affordable, accessible, quality childcare; and an obligation on employers to provide flexible work allowing men and women to share the work-family life balance.

Irish Independent

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