Where sex is the definition of the biological differences between a man and a woman, gender defines the social constructs of the male and the female in the society. Although the government of Ireland has developed different policies that target at gender mainstreaming, gender inequality is a phenomenon that can be traced in different socio economical elements in the Irish Society. In addition, one can trace this social problem since time in memorial, where women were homemakers while men were the major contributors in the society in terms of economy and politics. One can trace the gender aspects in the Irish society through reviewing journal articles that discuss the issues.
Historical Overview of Gender
In their articles, Connolly (2003) and Anketel (2009) brief the reader on the history of the position of the women in the society. According to Connolly, before the World War I, women were confined to their homes, where they had an obligation of taking care of their husbands and children. While the women were homemakers, men were the family providers and engaged in active politic. Thus, they were the major, if not only, contributors to the society. While the only education that the Irish women were subjected to entailed taking care of their homes, men acquired skills and knowledge that would enable them to fend for their society. Thus, women were considered as inferior parties as compared to men. However, one of the historic changes was in 1916, during the Easter Rising. They carried out important tasks, such as acting as couriers, where they would bring in vital information to the Irish soldiers, treated the sick and the wounded, while still performing their domestic duties.
Although they contributed during the time, the Irish history does not recognize the womens participation during the time. Anketell (2009) recognizes three reasons why women did not get the recognition that they deserved. One of the reasons is that men wrote most of the history, thus emitted the female political contribution from the published works. The second reason she gives is that the Irish history focuses on the political and personalities of different parties as factors that led to the development of Ireland, thus emitting the women contribution. Finally, she states that women were regarded as powerless, and thus their contribution was overlooked.
In 1922, Ireland experienced the famous first-wave feminism, where the position of the woman changed significantly. The rising need to have equal rights among the men and women led to the Irish government granting women the right to vote. In addition, they would acquire education and become employed. Although the state had already granted permission for females to access education and employment, only a few were able to access since most still held the perception that the position of a woman in the society was that of a homemaker. Due to the same notion, very few participated in voting (Connolly 2003).
Anketell (2009) agrees with (Connolly 2003) that the Irish women could not hold public offices since the provisions of the constitution stated that there had to be consideration for physical, social, and moral functions of individuals. In addition, the state encouraged the employment of the single parents but strongly discouraged the employment of the married women. The government was reluctant to acknowledge that women who had a poor background would work to support their family as it perceived it as a risk to the balanced families that existed at the time. Since there was no public policy that provided that women could work, wage pay was evident. The females were considered as unskilled and incapable of performing as well as men.
Gender and Employment
The article of O'Sullivan (2012) and the research paper of Porter (2014) highlight the influence of gender in the working environment. According to OSullivan (2012), the number of working women has been rising. For instance, there was an increase of 40% of working women by 1994, which later rose to 55.2% by 2002. By 2008, 60.5% of the Irish women were employed. The number of married women and mothers has also been increasing significantly in the Irish society. To illustrate this, the number of working women rose from 34% in 1986 to 51.2% in 2005. However, the increase in the number of working women does not guarantee that there is gender equity in the workplace.
Potter (2014) compares the employment positions that both males and females held according to the 2011 statistics. Females held the lowest positions in the jobs associated to males. For example, only 12.25% held jobs in the process, plant and machinery operatives and 36.97% in the managerial positions. However as compared to men, the females still dominated the jobs related to females, such as secretarial jobs and jobs in the hospitality and leisure industry, where they held 71.25% and 85.11% respectively. In addition, most females held part time jobs while only 41.52% held full time jobs. On the other hand, most males, 59%, held full time jobs and 87% made up the population that was self employed.
O'Sullivan (2012) associates several factors, such as the rise in demand in the labour market, to the rise in the number of working women in the Irish society. In addition, the decline of the power the Catholic Church in politics resulted to women empowerment in the country. Thus, women could attain education, and thus adequate knowledge and skills that would help them acquire employment. There were also legislative reforms in the 1970s and 1980s. Ursula (2015) also states that economic crisis is also a factor that has had a negative impact on the employment rate of women. For example, the 2008 crisis resulted to 66% of women losing jobs and the collapse of the construction company rendered 46% women jobless. However, even though there is an increase in the number of working women, women still faces challenges such as unequal pay and gender based discrimination in the workplace.
O'Sullivan (2012) also evaluated some of the attitudes towards the working women in the society. While most people showed that they had come to terms with the concept of a working woman, most held that the appropriate age for the working woman was before she was married and after her children were grown up. In support of Porters (2014) analysis of the 2011 statistics, the article states that most women hold part time employment in order to meet their homemaking obligations. The glass ceiling concept is also common in the Irish society in order ensure that females balance their duties in the workplace and at home. Ursula (2015) points out that the pay gap is not only dependent on gender but also on the number of children that a woman has. As compared to the women who do not have children, those with one child are paid 31% lower.
Marriage and Gender Violence
Connolly (2003) states that in the 1950s the society held on to the gender-based traditional roles in the family. The women were supposed to be the homemakers. They were charged with household maintenance and bringing up children. The men on the other hand were charged with the responsibility of taking care of the financial needs of the family. The laws were designed to encourage the male into working in paid employment and the women into staying at home. The women had to be mothers in order to be considered doing their duties while the men had complete authority over their wives and children.
Over time, new laws were adopted to give the women more freedom and power. One of these laws was a bill that allowed married women to own property (Ursula, 2015). This was an important change towards equality since it married women would move away from depending on their husbands for financial support into financial freedom. The bill also gave the women the power to sue their husbands in case of violence. This reduced the previous power and authority that allowed the men to not only rule the women in the family but also abuse them emotionally, physically and verbally. The women were not supposed to complain or resist against this as they were charged with the responsibility of maintaining their marriages (Connolly, 2003).
In todays society, marriage is founded on respect and affection. The partners have to respect each other enough to be able to make decisions together. This is unlike in the past where love and respect were not an important factor in marriages. The opinion of both the male and female partners is important in the decision-making processes. The laws have also been designed to encourage more married women to earn a living and not rely on their husbands for support and survival (Ursula, 2015). The roles in the homes have therefore changed considerably with both spouses working to take care of the financial needs of the family. Laws have been enacted to protect the women in the society who are often the victims based on the traditional roles and rights of women.
Anketell (2009) presents the views of the society concerning marriages. She points out that the opinion of marriage has changed over the years. While in the past, everyone wanted and valued marriages, in the present Irish society, most people prefer not to engage in marriage. They prefer cohabiting, getting children without getting married or living together without marrying. They further do not find divorce as appalling as the previous generations. The rates of divorce in todays generation are therefore higher as compared to those in the past. This is because they do not view marriage as an important factor that should be preserved and maintained.
Laws and Policies on Gender Inequality
The Irish society experienced and condoned gender inequalities in the past. This created a need for the society to create laws that would be used to promote equality despite gender differences. The constitution aims at offering the women more opportunities to grow in the society in order to ensure that they are on the same level with the men in the society. One of the laws used in Ireland to promote equality was introduced in the 1950s (Connolly, 2003). The law offered the women an opportunity not only to own property but also to take a stand against violence. They would thus be able to sue their spouses who abused them as well as separate from them.
In the 1970s, a new law was introduced to further empower the women and eliminate rates on gender-based inequality (Ursula, 2015). This law allowed the women to work in paid employment. It gave the women an opportunity to grow and develop economically. Employers are prohibited from selecting employees basing it on their gender. This is because most of those people who base the selection process on gender discriminate against women. Thus, making gender-based selection illegal was targeted at ensuring that women with merit were awarded by working in areas they had specialized in.
The government has also created programs and policies to promote equality by making women a priority (Ursula, 2015). Groups such as NWCI and NWS are some of the examples that help in achieving this. The programs focus on increasing the socio-economic opportunities to the Irish women. They seek to promote the well-being of the women in the society as well as their participation in the national activities. Although women are able to vote in the current society, there are few women serving as government officials in the government. Laws have therefore been introduced effective in 2016 seeking to increase the number of women running the government.
It is evident that the journal articles exhibit the gender inequality that has persistently existed in the Irish society. The reader of the articles examines that women have always been discriminated against through history. However, the feminist...
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