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Mary Lou McDonald supports NWCI's Social Welfare Reform protest

17 May, 2005

Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today said that 'the need for reform of the welfare system reopens the debate about the role of women within society in general'. Ms McDonald made her comments after attending a protest organized by the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) calling for reform of the Social Welfare system.

Those calling for reform of the system delivered letters to the Minister for Finance outlining their concerns.

Speaking after the protest today Ms McDonald said:

"Women continue to suffer discrimination and inequality with Irish society. Women suffer disproportionately in the workplace through unequal pay with their male counterparts, are more likely to fall into the poverty trap, suffer as a result of physical, sexual and psychological abuse and many rural women continue to be disadvantaged resulting from a lack of services and a sense of isolation.

"Today's protest by the NWCI sought to highlight the inherently unequal social welfare system in this state, and in particular the need for women to have an independent entitlement to income. Reform of the welfare system is necessary if we are to adequately address poverty and inequality, which disproportionately affect women.

"The need for reform of the welfare system reopens the debate about the role of women within society in general. Last month Sinn Féin launched a Women's Document designed to address many of these core issues." ENDS

Sinn Féin will campaign for:

. Introduction of a system of paid parental leave

. Unpaid caring work to be legally acknowledged, measured and paid for in economic terms

. A renewed focus on preventative healthcare and significant increase in resources for health and social services

. Government funded childcare facilities and government subsidies for employers wishing to provide facilities on site

. Mainstream funding for all frontline and community services which support women and children affected by violence

. All-Ireland initiatives to eliminate gender differentiation and promote the development of a wider range of educational and career choices for girls and young women

. Rights based guidelines for pension policy to reflect the differential labour market position of women

. The development of a local services and information infrastructure to cater for the health, welfare and social needs of rural communities

. Targets and timescales to be set for achieving equality of representation for women in all aspects of public and political life

. Equality of outcome in employment, education and training

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