WOMEN IN THE HOME

 

Sir, I remember a time when all women stayed at home.

A woman in the public sector had to leave employment on marriage. She had no rights to her family home which could be sold over her head. Deserted wives and their children were left unprotected children's allowance was paid to fathers. Violence in the home was silently condoned. Rape was not reported as the victims were treated with hostility by the police and an all male judiciary. Women were not called for jury service.

Then in the 1970s and 1980s in an amazing demonstration of self help and explosion of energy, women formed organisations such as Aim, Adapt, Cherish, Rape Crisis Centre, to protect the vulnerable. Women demonstrated and lobbied and forced successive governments to legislate to protect women at home and at work. They collected thousands of signatures when the Government tried to renege on an EU directive on equal pay. Women went into politics and got elected at local and national level.

Those of us who were involved are proud to have been there but we know that the battle is only half won. We only have 13 per cent in the Dail and only a few women are in top management. Women who work still do two jobs. They are exhausted and often feel guilty.

No one asks a young man if he wants to be an engineer or a daddy. Women should not be asked to make such choices either. We need a fundamental rethink of our work schedules to allow both men and women to work and to share in their children's upbringing then we can talk about "Family Values". Yours, etc., Ballinacor House, Church Road, Ballybrack, Co Dublin.