The "feminisation of poverty" - a study of lone parents in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland
Centre for Education and Diversity Research (CEDAR) Dundalk Institute of Technology Co. Louth, Ireland
In the Republic of Ireland, women have experienced significant social and political changes since the 1960s. The increased secularisation of Irish society, the industrialising economy and gender equality reforms have increased women´s participation in the labour force. However, many challenges remain. This is because, despite national and international gender equality commitments through legislation, policies and laws, the traditional assumption of female dependence on men, is still the underlying factor which translates into women´s structurally unequal position in society today. What should also be questioned is the focus of British and Irish welfare regimes on the public world of employment. Research has shown that gender discrepancies in the labour market continue to reflect the value that is placed on a woman´s work. Furthermore, unpaid work is an area greatly overlooked and undervalued. Women who take up most unpaid responsibilities such as caring for their children or elderly parents (responsibilities which are vital to any healthy society) do not enforce greater legal, economic, or decision-making power. In fact, women´s responsibilities lead to unequal time poverty compared to their male counterparts. Therefore, the author suggests that promoting gender equality is about more than focusing on gender inequality based on poverty and income or access to resources. To address the "feminisation of poverty", social policies must be reflective of social relations.