ActionAid welcomes the publication of a new Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission policy (IHREC) statement which calls for a fundamental change in how the State views and values care.
The IHREC statement
The IHREC publication on care sets out actions that must be taken by the State to translate European and international standards into public policy commitments and measures.
The policy statement highlights the general principles that must underpin the provision and receipt of care at every stage of life, and the importance of both paid and unpaid care and its significant implications for gender equality and the importance of public services.
Action Aid Ireland CEO, Karol Balfe, said: “Care- both paid and unpaid- is essential work, most often delivered by women globally and in Ireland. Care is critical to the social infrastructure on which our societies are built- it includes simple acts of supporting others, but also more demanding acts of care for others. The failure by governments to value care and provide quality public services has a detrimental impact on women’s lives, particularly in securing economic equality.”
Ms Balfe said that as the government plans for a referendum on care in Ireland, we should treat care as “a major societal and human rights priority” not only domestically, but also by championing the value of care in its foreign policy. This would ensure that we support women globally in their call to have the importance of care recognised.
Importance of public services
“As the climate crisis demands we change our societies and economies, we must ensure that any just transition is grounded in gender equality and as the IHREC paper points out- there is a huge importance in the role of public services in delivering care. Profit cannot be the driving motive for such a crucial issue, this is a public good and a human rights issue. This would also contribute to ending poverty and promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economies.”
Ms Balfe said women and girls are the main providers of unpaid care and domestic work, something which is passed on to them through both patriarchal gender roles and the failure of modern states to deliver public services that really deliver for women.
“Ireland is committed to gender equality and has committed to review the constitution to better reflect this and update our modern day understanding of care and what it means. However the reality is that our economic system is dependent on women’s disproportionate care and domestic work burden. When governments cut or fail to adequately finance public services, it is women who are left to take on a larger proportion of responsibilities such as caring for their families, young children, the sick and the elderly or as we see in countries in the Global South, walking ever further to collect water and fuel.”
Ms Balfe said Action Aid Ireland sees the uneven burden of care that falls on women globally and that the IHREC focus on the role of public services was welcome.
The full IHREC policy statement can be accessed here: https://www.ihrec.ie/documents/policy-statement-on-care/
Photo caption: Danielle Nelson, Great Care Co-Op, Shelly Gaynor – ILMI independent living movement Ireland, Georgia Grogan, Doras Buí and Sarah McEntee, Doras Buí, participants in ActionAid and NWC Hearing on Care, May 2023.