Northern Ireland women ‘pushed into unpaid caring role’

Women in Northern Ireland are being pushed back into an unpaid caring role, according to a report  on the impact of recent government policies on women.

The report, The Northern Ireland Economy: Women on the Edge, Women’s Resource and Development Agency 2011, looks at issues including childcare, tax credit cuts, housing and debt and how they affect women of all ages, including migrant women, young women, older women and single parents. It is published by the Women’s Resource and Development Agency and funded by the Office of the First Minster and Deputy First Minister.

It says the new universal tax credit could force second earners out of the workplace by incentivising the main breadwinner. It highlights childcare as a major issue.

One of the reasons it says women in Northern Ireland are facing particular problems is because of the high proportion who work in the public sector. It wants to see more specific targets for getting women into senior positions in the private sector.

Another problem is the lack of representation of women in politics, meaning their concerns are not high on the list of priorities. The report calls for Gender Responsive Budgeting which takes into account how decisions on public spending affect women. 

Among its recommendations on childcare, it calls for the Northern Ireland Executive to urge the UK Government to reverse the cuts in the Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit and to protect childcare and carers support in the new Universal Credit system. It also recommendsthat a childcare strategy be urgently set up which includes daycare and wraparound care.

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