| 11.3°C Dublin

Women in the home bore the brunt of austerity, now they need a living wage

So now it's official: the people who have suffered the biggest loss in income as a result of "austerity" have been mammies.

The main reason women in couples have lost, on average, a full 14pc of their income (as opposed to 9 per cent for men) is mostly down to the fact that Child Benefit has been cut by a quarter, says the ERSI.

That doesn't just tell you that Child Benefit has been savagely cut.

It tells you how poor mammies really are that Child Benefit matters that much to them.

Oh, the heady heights of it! €140 per month, per child!

I'm not saying we're not grateful for it.

I'm just saying it's a very small amount, to be that important to mothers.

It tells you that after 40 years of feminism, a lot of women who are coupled-up have little else.

The truth is that a strong majority of mammies are at home full-time or part-time. Only 30pc of us work full-time.

From watching the telly you'd swear every Irish mammy reversed her large car out of the drive-way every morning at the crack of dawn and thenheaded off to spend the day in a swish office.

Some do, and they'll tell you it's not as swish as it looks. But loads of us don't.

Maybe our skills are adaptable or maybe we live far from any work.

Maybe we've a dose of kids or maybe we've just one who's very needy.

Let's just say we have our own reasons for staying home and all we ask is that those reasons are respected.

But they aren't. And the reason is because most of us have so little money that we're invisible.

We don't feature in advertising. We're not worth putting in dramas because we don't buy enough of the things we see in the ad breaks.


A recent study showed 60 per cent of full-time home-makers had no Laser or credit card and only 14pc of them had a pension.

And yet every day we battle the disgusting stereotype of the 'kept woman' arriving at the school gate in her tennis whites after a tough morning on the court.

All followed by a dose of skinny lattes, of course.

Fair play to those women if they can manage it, is what I say.

Who knows what battles they may face at home with a partner constantly away making all that moolah.

But they are in a tiny minority. Most women in the home are relatively poor by comparison with their full-time working sisters.

No-one gives a hoot because invisible people don't matter at election time.

Tax individualisation, which all but removed a stay-home mam's tax-free allowance, means that some couples can be €6,000 a year worse off just because one of them stays home.

The number of PRSI credits required for a full pension was bumped up by the current Government, leaving women who had been at home rearing their families worse off.

That was a fine way to thank them for their service to oursociety.


Oh, but I forgot - they weren't of service to society. They were 'primarily' a service to their husbands. Their main purpose in life was no doubt ironing his shirts.

We wouldn't want that, would we? Certainly not. That was what the Commission on the Status of Women thought in 1993 when now-Minister Frances Fitzgerald signed that report.

It's why the idea of a top-up payment to a parent in the home got nowhere.

And now, 20 years later, the brightest idea to bump up women's incomes that TD Aine Collins could come up with on Newstalk this week was cheaper childcare.

This, when a lot of women want a tax system which doesn't penalise them for staying home, a reformed Child Benefit system tiered to tackle disadvantage, and a full right to pensions for all carers.

They want more expensive childcare - but they want to deliver it themselves.