Budget 2021 will not be remembered as a budget for women.

While the Government has sought to react to the pandemic, its inclusive measures have not rung true for many women.

Since March, the coronavirus has exposed inequalities already in existence across the world.

A recent report by the EU Agency Eurofound titled 'Living, Working and Covid-19', found that the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on women.

The web survey of 90,000 respondents from all EU 27 member states in April, July and August found most women were less optimistic about their future than men.

The findings revealed that women faced greater job losses as a result of the pandemic.

Those who managed to stay in employment were also subject to major and disproportionate declines in work-life balance.

Eurofound offered some policy warnings and suggestions based on its findings for governments across the EU.

It said the crisis presented "a serious risk of rolling back decades of gains achieved in gender equality" and noted the "unintended consequences" of measures put in place by governments in spring 2020.

In an attempt to control the spread of the pandemic, it noted that women's share of unpaid work increased considerably.

Working from home proved to be burdensome for many mothers as they juggled work, home-schooling and care, all in the same pocket of space.

"While some of the gender-unequal impacts of the current crisis might be temporary and could reverse at a later stage, others could have long-lasting consequences," the report said.

The EU agency said it was essential, therefore, that the economic and social inclusion of women was at the core of recovery measures.


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However, the National Women's Council of Ireland said Budget 2021 has not paved the way for a feminist recovery.

In a statement, the NWC acknowledged that the latest Budget would help to alleviate some of the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on women, however it also pointed out that it did not address "the structural inequalities that women continue to experience".

It called on the Government to renew its commitment to "fully gender and equality proof" all Budget decisions.

Many were surprised that there was no additional investment into Early Years Education and Afterschool Care, given that the costs of childcare are among the highest in the EU and investment is at such a low level.

The Women’s Council called on the Government to use the National Economic Plan for significant investment in public childcare provision.

In June 2019, the previous government announced the establishment of a new Citizens’ Assembly to consider gender equality.

It was set up to examine barriers to equality in Irish society.

Among the issues for consideration are gender equality in the workplace and the value placed on work that is traditionally held by women.

It is tasked with looking at how to make sure that women are able to fully participate in leadership and decision-making in the workplace, politics and public life.

The membership will also discuss the importance of childcare and of having a good work-life balance; how men and women share caring responsibilities, especially in the family; and the reasons why women are more likely to be employed in low pay sectors.

It's ironic that on the week that the Assembly reconvenes for the first time since the disruption caused by Covid-19, a Budget has been announced omitting supports that would have a greater impact on the gender that will be discussed.

The topic of Saturday's webinar will be 'Women in Leadership’.