Over one million women throughout the island of Ireland are experiencing poverty and social exclusion according to a Unite briefing note released today (5 March 2015) in advance of International Women’s Day. The note is available for download here.
The figures show that 30.2 per cent of women in the Republic and 32.7 per cent of women in Northern Ireland were suffering from poverty and social exclusion in 2013, the most recent year for which figures are available. The group most at risk of poverty and social exclusion is lone parents, the overwhelming majority of whom are women: 72.3 per cent of lone parents in Northern Ireland and 64.9 per cent in the Republic are at risk.
While women without an income from work are particularly vulnerable, the figures show that employment is not necessarily a route out of poverty, with over one-in-ten women in work in the Republic and one-in-seven in Northern Ireland at risk of poverty and social exclusion.
Commenting on the figures published today, Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly said:
“Once again, these shocking figures show us that we need a targeted programme to raise the incomes and living standards of women and of all working people. In addition to substantially increasing social protection payments and reversing the worst cuts to community supports to help those not in work, we urgently need to increase minimum wage levels as part of a strategy to establish the Living Wage as a new threshold of decency”, Jimmy Kelly said.
Regional Equalities Officer Taryn Trainor said:
“In addition to increasing wage levels and social protection supports, we need to look at specific factors which disproportionately affect women. These include the need to roll out affordable childcare places, end zero hour and low hour contracts, and protect and defend public sector employment – which not only employs women but also provides the services upon which so many women depend”, Taryn Trainor said.