Social Democrats TD for Cork South-West, Holly Cairns, has called on the Government and relevant stakeholders to address the underlying issues resulting in gender pay inequality in Ireland.

After raising the issue with the Tánaiste in the Dáil today, Holly said:

“This week marked gender pay day when, in effect, women in Ireland are working for free for the remainder of the year. The gender pay gap in Ireland is currently 14.4%. It is a complex issue with systemic causes that need to be addressed by Government, employers and unions.

“Women are disproportionately present in low-paid and precarious employment. In addition, women and girls spend fewer hours in paid work than men on average but more hours in unpaid domestic and caring work.

“Then there are larger issues around the low-pay sectors, such as caring and education that mainly employ women, while there is an over-representation of men in better-paid sectors, such as technology and engineering. These issues require structural changes, including increasing the minimum wage and strengthening the regulation of precarious work.

“The reality is that gender discrimination in employment persists. That is why it is essential for the Government to introduce pay transparency legislation.

“Unfortunately, many people deny the existence of a gender pay gap, which adds to the problem. I tweeted about the issue on Monday and the level of denial was astonishing. However, the evidence is clearly there and needs to be acted on.

“In 1975, Icelandic women went on strike to protest against wage discrepancy. Ninety percent of Iceland’s female population did not go to their paid jobs and did not do any housework or child-rearing for the whole day. Iceland’s parliament passed a law guaranteeing equal pay the following year.

“That was in 1975 – it is now 2020. Why are we so behind in Ireland?”

November 12, 2020

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