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Committees, Gender and the Budget November 8, 2012

Posted by Oireachtas Retort in Uncategorized.

Informative session at the Foreign Affairs Committee slipped under the radar the last month. Very impressive contribution from Saraswathi Menon of UN Women in particular and Lilian Looloitai, property rights among others in Tanzania. A welcome global perspective away from the ultra-local stuff that usually clogs up Dáil Eireann. Good case for sessions like this finding a bigger audience if the Oireachtas can get it’s act together in post-terrestrial Ireland.

Streaming here & transcript here.

Plently of noteworthy comment on violence, power, education and the stat – women produce over 55% of food in the developing world. One remark toward the end stuck out in light of an issue gaining ground as the crisis here wears on.

gender inequality is innate in all societies, and it is often compounded when it intersects with racism, caste systems or any other form of discrimination.

There is a good piece in the latest Village from Orla O’Connor & Ann Irwin looking towards the budget and how austerity continues to aggravate   imbalances.  That notion of a ‘mancession’ has filled mainstream columns for a while but here we see an altogether structurally deeper problem then the collapse of male dominated industries etc. In the Irish case we can swap (or add) real, consistent poverty for any of the intersections mentioned above, with women

overrepresented in low-paid, precarious work; they are more dependent on social welfare

While unemployment was incremental compared to the [still] extraordinary male figures early on, the catch up has long started

figures for Q2 2012 show for every newly unemployed man there were nine women.

But the nub here I think is pre-existing situation as the Village notes

There was a difference of €10,000 in annual average disposable income between household headed by a male and one headed by a female in 2010.

..and in measures we are likely to see trumpeted, as mentioned in the Dáil recently

The statement of the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, on the budget earlier today is a perfect example. In his contribution on the labour market, the only sector of the economy he referred to was the construction sector. The vast majority of jobs which will, I hope, be created by the €17 billion capital expenditure programme will be for males.

…and also measures not so trumpeted, though not harming Fine Gael in the polls it has to be said.

There is a perfect correlation between having less and being asked to pay more by the Government. Last year, a single parent [86.5% likely to be female] with three children was asked to stump up €4,600 while an individual earning €200,000 was asked to stump up €100. This is what the Government did last year by choice. It made a lone parent with three children contribute 46 times more to correcting the deficit than a high earner earning €200,000.

Noonan had left the chamber long before the above but when asked earlier in the month

With regard to budgetary matters, when focusing on the primary objectives of reducing the deficit and returning sustainability to the public finances, it has been of vital importance to the Government to spread the burden of the adjustments made in as fair and equitable a manner as possible, while also seeking to minimise their negative impact on economic growth.

There are currently no plans to specifically equality and gender proof Budget 2013. That said however, the Deputies should be aware that the Programme for Government does contain a clear commitment requiring all public bodies to take due note of equality and human rights in carrying out their functions. I would also remind the Deputy that the State and its bodies must, of course, comply with all provisions of equality legislation in the development and delivery of its policies and services.

Furthermore, when proposals are put to Government there is a requirement to indicate clearly, whether there is any impact of the proposal on, amongst other things, gender equality, persons experiencing or at risk of poverty or social exclusion and people with disabilities.

The Deputies should also be aware that a distributional analysis of proposed budget measures is performed each year based on income levels.


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