“Policies must be designed in light of their impact on gender dynamics and their effect on children”


Senator Zappone's speech in the Seanad on November 4th.

A new site has been set up on Facebook demanding a general election. As of 7 a.m. today, there were 7,000 followers. Undoubtedly, this has a lot to do with the public anger about the "lot of mistakes made in relation to the set up of Irish Water", as acknowledged by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Kelly, yesterday.

I marched with the people in Tallaght on Saturday last. There were a mixture of reasons, they said, as to why they came out in their thousands there and in their tens of thousands throughout the country. It is the water issue but it is not just that issue.

As I stressed in my response to budget 2015, the Government pursued a policy of massive social disinvestment during the austere period. Many women and children were hit particularly hard by the cuts.

Reports last week unequivocally demonstrate that the Government is failing many in both groups. I have several questions I wish to raise with the Tánaiste, Deputy Burton, in a Seanad debate on these reports. My overarching question, however, would be how we will ensure our future legislation reinvests in women and children.

The first report, the World Economic Forum gender gap report, examined 142 countries. Overall, Ireland's gender gap ranking slipped from fifth in the world in 2011 to eighth in 2014. It grew over the past year. Why are women becoming increasingly worse off relative to their male counterparts in a recovering economy?

In Tallaght and neighbouring communities where I have worked over many years, 55% of women leave education by secondary school. What progressive policies are being implemented by the Government to combat gender inequities such as this?

The second report is the UNICEF report on the impact of the economic crisis on children. It also presents equally disturbing figures on the disproportionate effects of social disinvestment on many Irish children. The rate of child poverty in Ireland has increased by almost 11%, from 2008 to 2012. In 2012, 130,000 children were poor. Childhood poverty rates dropped over the same period of time in 18 countries and in many EU countries that also struggled with economic crises.

Will the Leader invite the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection to the House to debate these reports soon? Policies must be designed in the future in light of their impact on gender dynamics and their effect on children.

The speech was covered by Irish Times article yesterday Nov 4th, 2014. Link: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/oireachtas/bacik-says-senators-did-not-guillotine-water-bill-1.1988166

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