4 November 2004 Edition

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Women still losing out

"While women have contributed significantly to Ireland's economic success, they have not experienced the benefits of that success."

So said Orla O'Connor, Head of Policy at the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI), launching the organisation's Pre-Budget Submission to a large group of women, supported by Mary Lou McDonald MEP and Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD (Sinn Féin), Cllr Bronwyn Maher (Green Party) and Senator Sheila Terry (Fine Gael), outside Leinster House on Tuesday.

The recommendations made in the Submission identify four priority areas to reduce poverty and inequality for women in Ireland:

• Ensuring women's economic independence

• Health for all

• Working for an Anti-Racist Society

• Building Women's Participation

The feminisation of poverty continues in Ireland, said O'Connor, with 23% of women at risk of falling below the poverty line, in comparison to 19% of men, and the risk of poverty is increasing for older women and lone parents. She emphasised how poverty reduces women's ability to have an equal place in society.

"The government has committed itself to reducing women's poverty — Budget 2005 is an opportunity for the government to fulfil these promises. The resources are there, what is needed now is action." she said.

The NWCI is calling for action in the following areas:

• Increase child benefit and restore it for children of asylum seekers.

• Increase childcare provision.

• Increase funding for services working on violence against women.

• Introduce funding for the Traveller Health Strategy.

• Increase access to the Medical Card.

• Increase social welfare rates, including pensions.

• Increase funding for the community women's sector.

An Phoblacht
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