IFA Farm Family and Social Affairs Chairperson Caroline Farrell is calling on all farmers to join the push for pension equality for women.
Caroline Farrell was speaking as she and other IFA representatives joined a protest organised by a group including the National Women’s Council, Age Action, and Pensioners for Equality today in Dublin.
Today’s protest is part of a campaign seeking measures to address inequality resulting from changes to the yearly average contribution system introduced in 2012, which discriminate against individuals, particularly women, who worked within the PAYE system for a number of years but had to leave for a period due to the marriage bar or to raise a family or care for an older relative.
IFA has made representations to the Minister for Social Protection, Regina Doherty to seek a solution to address this injustice, which is experienced by many women in farming as well as those low-income farm families in receipt of Farm Assist who were excluded from making pension contributions prior to 2007.
IFA is calling on the Government to address past injustices for women at or near pension age by:
- introducing a total contribution system for the purposes of calculating the level of contributory pension; and,
- ensuring that the pension system recognises the important role women have played and continue to play in providing unpaid care.
“The contributory pension is a hugely important source of income support upon retirement for self-employed workers, particularly those at lower income levels,” Caroline Farrell said.
“It is completely unacceptable that women are being discriminated against for taking time out from paid work to care for children and family members, particularly when in some instances they were forced to give up work under the marriage bar.
“It is saddening to meet women who have worked all their life on the farm, caring for their children and older relatives and who are now facing their old age in poverty because the State still fails to recognise their work as unpaid carers”
Caroline Farrell pointed out that at 37%, the gender pension gap between the value of pension payments to women and to men in Ireland is the fifth widest pension gap within the EU. She said, “To honour its commitments in the National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020, the Government must as a matter of urgency assess how our pension policy impacts on women.”