THE National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today responded to the discussions on the future the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, saying now is the time to get welfare payments right for women.
Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said: “Any changes to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) must look at the impact on women.
"Data from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection shows that those who have lost their jobs as a result of Covid-19 are more likely to be young, low-paid, women workers who were previously in part-time employment.
"This means that the economic impact of this pandemic is falling most heavily on the most marginalised women in our society.” Orla O’Connor said.
“For decades our social welfare system has treated women as dependents and the payment of PUP has finally introduced an individualised system to our unemployment payments.
"We want this principle retained so that women do not return to being dependent ‘qualified adults’ with no payments in their own right and with little or no access to employment supports.
“In addition, the increased rate of the PUP during the pandemic highlights the current inadequacy of our unemployment payments for all people, to maintain a decent standard of living.
"Rather than reducing the PUP, we need to focus on how we can increase social welfare payments in the long term so that everyone can afford a decent standard of living - whether their job was lost through this pandemic or otherwise.
“The transition from PUP payment to welfare payments requires a re-imagination of a welfare system that financially supports people in unemployment, ensures their economic independence and a decent standard of living and one that provides all the necessary supports to re-enter paid work, particularly for those most marginalised.
"We cannot view these changes in isolation of the development of strong quality universal services, particularly childcare if we are to ensure that women do not bear the brunt of this pandemic.”