March 6th: Unite is today releasing ‘Poverty is a Feminist Issue’, highlighting poverty and deprivation among women throughout the island of Ireland. Part of the occasional ‘Unite Notes’ series, the document is being released to coincide with the Congress Women’s Conference – Organising Women for Decent Work – being held in Wexford today and tomorrow. Research shows that:
- Nearly 600,000 women suffered multiple deprivation experiences in the Republic in 2011 (most recent data), up from 321,000 in 2008
- In Northern Ireland, approximately 193,500 females, or 21 per cent, are at risk of poverty
- 63.3 per cent of lone parents in the Republic and 62.2 per cent of lone parents in Northern Ireland are at risk of poverty, with women accounting for over 90 per cent of lone parents
- 27.6 per cent of women workers in Northern Ireland and 23.6 per cent in the republic are low-paid
- The gender pay gap has increased from 12.6 to 14.4 per cent in the Republic since the start of the crisis, and from 8.8 to 9.7 per cent in Northern Ireland over the past year.
Commenting, Unite Regional Equalities Organiser Taryn Trainor said:
“The figures released by Unite today highlight the disproportionate impact of the economic crisis and the austerity responses to it on women in both jurisdictions. They also highlight the need for robust equality auditing of all budgetary measures.
“Unite is proposing a package of measures including increases in the Minimum Wage and other wage floors, the introduction of a ‘Living Wage’ in both jurisdictions, the abolition of zero hours contracts in Northern Ireland and implementation of the Part-Time Working Directive in the Republic, enabling workers to increase their hours where these are available.
“In addition, social protection payments in the Republic and in Northern Ireland need to be substantially increased, and cuts impacting on lone parents in both economies must be reversed”, Ms Trainor said.
Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly added: “Working people and disadvantaged groups such as women have borne the brunt of austerity policies adopted in response to the economic crisis.
“Unite will be campaigning in both the Republic and in Northern Ireland to ensure that workers and women share fully in the fruits of economic recovery”, Jimmy Kelly concluded.