Affordable child care essential for gender equality in the workplace

Anja Zauers

Affordable childcare and shared parental leave will help promote gender equality in the workplace a new survey has found.

A discussion was held at the inaugural #WorkEqual conference which took place on November 27th, regarding affordable and accessible childcare provisions, as well as an optional shared paternal leave in the first year of a baby’s life in order to achieve workplace equality.

The #WorkEqual is an annual campaign run by the Dress for Success Dublin (DFSD) charity which aims to raise awareness about gender inequalities in the workplace.

Just under 90 per cent of delegates at the conference said that gender inequality existed in the Irish workplace, with more than 60 participants from the public and private sector and non-governmental organisations took part in the survey.

Survey respondents were presented with potential measures and had to rate them in order of their impact.

Rounding out the top five measures included: a legal requirement for companies to disclose their gender pay gap data; greater take-up of paternity leave, with employers encouraging more men to avail of their full paternity leave entitlements; and offered career support for women during and after maternity leave.

Having more women in a leadership position in Irish society was regarded as the least effective measure in promoting gender equality in the workplace.

Speaking at the conference Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar revealed how the government is determined to promote and encourage workplace equality. 

“We’re increasing State subsidies for childcare to make it more affordable, improving parental leave entitlements and we’re enacting new legislation aimed at closing the gender pay gap.”

The Citizens’ Assembly on gender equality will be set up next year and chaired by Dr Catherine Day, the first woman to hold that post. The Assembly will especially examine pay inequalities across the economy

Mr Varadkar pointed out that female workers are effectively “working for nothing” from November 11th given the pay gap between men and women in Ireland.

Finishing the conference, Sonya Lennon, the founder of DFSD, the charity behind the #WorkEqual campaign, said “We all know about the huge benefits that accrue – both societally and commercially – when women are able to access work and progress their careers on an equal footing with men” 

Ms Lennon ensured everyone that they will be working with policymakers and the government over the coming years to implement solutions to gender equality in the workplace and to ensure it becomes  “truly accessible and equal for both women and men”.

Author: Anja Zauers

Image Credit: Chloe Rooney