Cross-party female politicians call for immediate pay parity

April 13th, 2021 10:10 PM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Katie Murphy and her cousin Olivia Bowen arriving home to Schull after being elected to Cork County Council in 2019. Cllr Murphy said that it is draining to see such disparity in pay between men and women. ‘This does not lend itself to inspiring women into any role, be it politics or otherwise,’ she said recently. (Photo: Tom Newman)

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WEST Cork’s female politicians from across the political spectrum are calling on the government to implement policies to ensure pay parity in Ireland for work of equal value.

Deputy Holly Cairns (SD) along with councillors Karen Coakley (FG), Katie Murphy (FG) and Deirdre Kelly (FF) were responding to a request from the United Nations Women – the UN entity for gender equality and women’s empowerment – who called on world leaders to address the matter.

They have highlighted the fact that 12 EU countries have established a National Equal Pay Day, but not Ireland.

‘It is disgraceful that the gender pay in Ireland stands at 14.4%, this is even more worrying when we know that it has a greater impact on older women, women from ethnic minorities and women with disabilities,’ said Deputy Cairns.

‘Women are disproportionately present in low paid and precarious employment, and many of the jobs traditionally occupied by women, such as care and education have lower pay rates.’

Deputy Cairns said there needs to be a comprehensive response from both government and the private sector to address the underlying issues involved.

‘We need a statutory Living Wage, better regulation of precarious work and shared parental leave. Outstanding issues such as the lack of maternity for councillors and TD’s need to be resolved.’

Cllr Karen Coakley stated that 49% of the world’s working age women are in the workforce and this compares to 75% of their male counterparts.

‘How can we aspire to see more women in politics or in any senior position, with figures like this? It is exceptionally disappointing that we are no closer to making pay parity a reality in Europe, despite the right to equal pay for equal work being enshrined in the Treaty of Rome and later in the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU,’ said Cllr Coakley.

Cllr Deirdre Kelly said that despite progress being made in relation to achieving gender equality, challenges still remain on many levels and women continue to be undermined.

‘Quite frankly it is astonishing to note that there is a difference of over 14% in earnings between a male and female engaged in precisely the same employment. This is unacceptable and allowing it continue, or turning a blind eye to the problem, is essentially endorsing gender inequality,’ said Cllr Kelly.

As a young woman in local politics, Cllr Katie Murphy said that it is draining to see such disparity.

‘I have spoken recently of the need for diverse perspectives in all aspects of life, however this does not lend itself to inspiring women into any role, be it politics or otherwise,’ said Cllr Murphy.

‘It is disheartening  and discouraging for me and my peers who are just learning in details for the first time about the gender pay gap in the EU. In this day and age it shouldn’t be a real life issue for me and my female colleagues to highlight.’

Deputy Cairns intends to raise the matter in the Dáil, while the three councillors will submit a motion to Cork County Council requesting that correspondence is forwarded to Minister Roderic O’Gorman asking that his department address the matter without delay.

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