The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commissioner says Ireland has yet to see adequate supports for caring and unpaid work, and has not properly addressed the gender imbalance in terms of those who provide such care.
Emily Logan said a new study released by the Commission and the ESRI shows that more than half of those carrying out unpaid care work are juggling these responsibilities with employment, and that women are overrepresented in the cohort of employees who avail of reduced hours in order to facilitate care and unpaid work.
The “Caring and Unpaid Work in Ireland” study found that:
The study also found that Ireland has the third highest weekly hours of unpaid work for both men and women across the EU28, even when differences such as level of paid employment, age, education, partner status and age of children are taken into account.
The gender gap in unpaid work time in Ireland is seventh highest amongst the EU28, with countries such as Italy, Greece, Malta, and Poland coming in with a wider gender gap while this difference it at its narrowest in Scandinavian countries.
“These countries have welfare/gender regimes that are closer to the dual earner/dual caregiver model, and offer the most consistent policy configuration for promoting gender equality,” the report stated of the gender gap in Scandinavian countries.
These comparisons suggest that the Irish policy regime continues to support a gendered allocation of unpaid care.
"Further research is necessary to explore more detailed policy processes (social services, family policies, tax/welfare policies, employment policies, etc.) that influence these cross-national differences but is beyond the scope of the current study,” the study found.
“While we have seen advances in recent years, including increased participation by women in the workplace, we have yet to see adequate supports for caring and unpaid work,” Ms Logan said.
“Nor, crucially, have we yet seen adequate measures to reconfigure the gendered nature of care work, and to create the conditions to encourage men to take on more such work. I hope this study will provide some of the insights required to assist policymakers in Ireland to create a new paradigm, where caring and unpaid work is recognised, truly valued, and equally shared,” she said.