The position of women in Irish society is highlighted again this weekend. Seemingly one qualified doctor is not enough to determine whether a woman is suicidal or not. Besides the whole abortion debate, it illustrates a worrying idea that ‘the women’s are not to be trusted’ (followed by someone shaking a stick at a camera in Salem).
This follows on from a week where maternity leave for female deputies and senators was rejected. Adding to a month where Croke Park II was found to be ‘anti women’ in an independent report. Furthermore, the role and value of women in the workplace was put in jeopardy by plans for income readjustment in the new Insolvency Regulations.
Is it just me or has the government launched some war on women?
So let me get this straight, the current government doesn’t trust women to do the following:
- Have an independent economic role (Insolvency, Croke Park II)
- Be able to accurately communicate the state of her mental health (Abortion)
- Have financial supports when pregnant while acting as a public representative (Maternity Leave)
Does the government trust women to do anything at all?
Apart from the gender quotas legislation nothing much has changed for women. Oh and woe betide them if she decides to start a family while she has benefited from these quotas! Maternity leave should be there for women seeking to start a family. It should also be possible to split such leave between parents. But that’s an argument for another day.
The abortion issue is not just about life and where it begins but the value that society places on a woman. With the prohibition on abortion in Ireland, the status of a woman while pregnant is an uncomfortable question of which life takes precedence? Do we protect the mother or the child? Do we wait until both are at deaths door before intervention can be taken? In my opinion, the State has put the life of the mother below that of the life contingent (to borrow the X case phraseology) of the unborn child. The current draft legislation is unworkable and the only reasonable solution is to repeal the 8th Amendment.
When it comes to the economic value of women, we have only just developed from the days when women had to give up their jobs when they were married. Whether the Insolvency guidelines have been reformed or not, it still shows that the position of the mother in the workplace is viewed by some in power as more of a hobby which should be knocked on the head if and when childcare costs exceed her income.The fact that some women need, for their own sanity, a role outside of the home (which apparently women don’t know anyway).
Furthermore, the real insult by the government and the economic role of a woman is the reforms in Croke Park II. Thankfully, this shambles of an agreement was rejected by the grassroots civil and public servants. The agreement tried to push through amendments to working conditions which would have overwhelmingly have seen women placed in a worse position to their male colleagues. Flexible hours and leave to allow women to work around school timetables and holidays were to be cut. People may scoff at the conditions of the Public/Civil service, but it must be remembered than many shunned the lavish salaries of the Private sector in the Celtic Tiger period in order for a family friendly workplace.
The time has come for women to reassert their role in Irish Society and be counted. This is an economic and rights argument which needs to be heard. Is it time for feminism in Ireland to be re evaluated?