By Kelly McAllister, reporting for VIEWdigital
WOMEN in trade unions, public sector and the media have spelt out what equality measures they want to see put in place.
Access to affordable childcare is a huge issue for the working woman in Northern Ireland, South African feminist and broadcaster Adrienne Peltz said during a panel discussion on gender issues at Féíle an Phobail in Belfast.
Adrienne Peltz was joined on the panel by Alison Millar, general secretary at NIPSA, Carmel McKinney, chair of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and journalist Amanda Ferguson. The event was chaired by broadcaster Yvette Shapiro.
At the ‘What Every Woman Wants – Equality’ event, Adrienne Peltz said that she would like to see the introduction of universal, fully-funded childcare as well as a two-year extension of both maternity and paternity leave for parents.
According to Ms Peltz, the issues that working mothers face are not solely childcare issues.
“One of the biggest problems is having to take time out of your career and come back and start at the bottom and be seen as a liability in the workplace because your male colleagues never have to do that,” she said.
Ms Millar agreed that affordable childcare is fundamental to the whole issue of women being able to work but said that older people care was also an important issue for many women.
She said: “For those of you in the room who still look after elderly parents, it was almost easier in relation to children because you knew in a few years’ time they will grow up and become more independent. With elder care they become more dependent as they get older, so we also need a strategy around elder care. “
Ms McKinney felt that structurally there needs to be much more done in terms of leave of absence to deal with older people care and more mainstreaming of money into the building of female groups – that will include childcare facilities – across the education sector.
Meanwhile Ms Ferguson addressed the issue of a lack of flexible working for people in the North.
She said: “I think we are still too stuck in 9 to 5 being the thing that people have to work whenever outcomes are much better when workers have flexibility.”
Falls Women’s Centre and the Equality Commission organised the event.
VIEWdigital has published an in-depth look at equality in VIEW magazine with guest editor Yvette Shapiro; here’s the link: http://viewdigital.org/2017/02/23/latest-view-magazine-putting-focus-equality-issues/