Wednesday 24 January 2018

Latest CSO data reveals key differences between men and women in Ireland

(stock image)
(stock image)

Laura Lynott

Campaigners are calling for flexible careers for Irish women to prevent a decline into poverty after new CSO statistics revealed 98pc of carers and those carrying out household duties, are female.

The CSO 2016 statistics show in the past decade the vast majority of those caring for children, the disabled, elderly relatives, or taking on household chores, are women.

More than six out of 10 carers are female (61pc) or 195,263, while 30.5pc of women carers provide 29 hours or more unpaid work weekly, limiting their potential to earn.

Caring roles are leading Irish women to lose out on progressing up the career ladder or to secure financially autonomy, women’s groups fear.

Women are by default also being“discriminated” against for future contributory State pensions, Family Carers Ireland stated.

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 traditional roles.

Although females 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 just 42.9pc of men - they are still more likely to miss out on career progression due to their caring roles.

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 and 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 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, CAO of Parentline, said 84pc of callers to the group are women and some are “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.

The group said it had been a “slow rise” in the number of men taking on caring roles and improvements had to be made to keep making childcare more accessible and affordable for women to allow them to take up paid work.

The CSO Women and Men in Ireland 2016 study highlighted men have a higher rate of employment with 69.9pc of men gaining work compared to 59.5 per cent of women.

While men are working longer hours than women.  In 2016 men worked an average of 39.7 hours a week in paid employment compared to 31.7 hours for women.

Director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland, Orla O’Connor, said the data is “critical” to shape future Government policy and budgets as 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.

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