Caring and unpaid work


Sir, – It’s no surprise that Ireland has such a high level of unpaid caring work, that women do most of it and that it’s worth billions (“Irish ‘spend over 30 hours a week’ doing unpaid care, housework”, News, July 10th). This “reflects the State’s low involvement in support for caring”, as the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission’s chief commissioner says.

The IHREC’s report on Caring and Unpaid Work in Ireland is a welcome spotlight on this invisible work and all those who do it. This work is invaluable to every economy and society and to the reproduction of the human race and the survival of our planet.

The IHREC states that Article 41.2 of the Constitution, the “women in the home” article, should not be abolished but rather updated and amended to recognise and value this caring work.

In particular, women with more power in society should reflect on calls for the removal of the one bit of recognition that millions of women have for their immense labours.

We need to be profoundly aware that women who do that work are not bypassed and that their rights and dignity are respected.

The IHREC’s position reflects our growing movement to defend mothers and other carers from those who don’t see how much all of us, including them, are dependent on caring work. However, proposals that caring be equally shared, without calling for financial support for carers, which Article 41.2 points to, will do nothing for the many who are doing this work.

Of course the work should be shared, and there are increasingly men who want to share it.

But until resources are allocated to it, caring will continue to be low status, and carers, including waged carers, will be at greater risk of discrimination, impoverishment, dependency and domestic violence.

And who is to share the work with lone parents, overwhelmingly women, who, according to One Family, head 25.4 per cent of families with children, half of them among the poorest in Ireland? – Yours, etc,