At the end of March a member of our Government, Leo Varadkar stated:
"I know one or two women....who probably don't make very much money from working but they do it to keep their position on the career ladder, if you like"
"But I think if somebody is in that position whereby they're actually losing money, it's costing them money to work and as a result they can't pay their mortgage, well then that is something that needs to be taken into account in any kind of insolvency regime."*
I immediately thought of several women, close to me, whom this would affect. Two distinct types.
Firstly, three women I know who have PHDs. It had taken years for them to attain this level of education. One is involved in the agriculture sector, another in the health and the third in research on genes. These women are involved in research and development that will, quite possibly, lead to job creation. They also teach and tutor in third level institutions. The money they earn only barely covers their childcare costs as they move from contract work to contract work.
One of these women went for a contract job interview with a charitable foundation and was told that she shouldn't get pregnant during the time of the contract as it would not be renewed. I know this is illegal, it is happening nonetheless.
Another group of women affected are friends who are entrepreneurs. Some of these businesses were set up during the recession and some are now established businesses. Natasha, owns a French grind school. She won Network Irish Business Woman of the Year last year. She visits young women in schools and talks to them about entrepreneurship, amongst other things.
Carolyn, has her own hairdressing business. She specialises in weddings and last year when I asked her to help out with a charity event in my school that involved styling 18 hairstyles, she did it for free. This year she set up another business setting up 'retro sweets stalls' for weddings.
These woman all keep ploughing on. They have support and help from their loving husbands and partners. However when they need to avail of childcare, the cost is prohibitive.
In my own case, as a Special Needs Assistant, my wages covered my car and childcare from 2005 to 2009. That was it. I thought about giving up my job and going into child-minding but I knew I would not need childcare after 2009. I love my job and I feel I have something to contribute to it. I also went to college for 5 years at night.
Here's a thought: Let people pay for the childcare from their gross pay instead of their net pay. I'm aware that the Government has no money left in the coffers but these woman are helping to generate jobs through their work. They also create jobs in the childcare industry. Is is better to allow these women to continue to do their work or pay them on the dole?
If a woman wishes to remain in the home I fully support her. If a woman has studied for 10 years and wishes to have children as well as work, I support her too. Most studies show that children benefit best in a home where parents are contented with their roles in life.
*This quote is from The Irish Times on 27th March. I believe he's had his wrists slapped since.