Tuesday 23 October 2018

Our long-suffering women deserve more than words, they deserve pension equality

The current pension system is grossly unfair to females who contribute invaluably to society, writes Catherine Martin

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has admitted it is
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has admitted it is "bonkers and unbelievable" that women are losing out on pension payments due to a recent change in the rules. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Catherine Martin

In recent years, the pension gap between men and women has widened, with women now having on average 37pc less of a pension to live on than men. Many women, who for so many years got up early in the morning to work or look after this nation's children are now entering an insecure, impoverished retirement. They will have limited access to pensions for a number of reasons including low pay, poor conditions of work or taking time out from work for caring responsibilities. Women who worked on family farms and in family businesses also do not have social insurance cover, which means they are often totally reliant on their spouse or partner in their older age.

Introduced in 1994, the Homemaker's Scheme made it easier for some women and men who have spent years out of the workforce caring for children to qualify for a Contributory State Pension, but a lack of fair and equitable access to the Homemaker's Scheme has led to experiences of inequality of treatment for a whole generation of women in the State Pensions system. The State's enforced marriage bar was in place in Ireland until 1973.

Tens of thousands of women who got married prior to 1973 and were forced to give up their public and civil service jobs are now out in the cold, forgotten, and, put simply, do not receive equal treatment. This is not good enough - it is grossly unfair. They deserve better.

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