Some Issues Surrounding Education and Training Opportunities for Lone Mothers Innorthern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
Gender, in particular as it relates to the Irish constitution and Irish Law, is contested and complex, encompassing issues of national identity, religious values and sovereignty. These issues have a strong impact on education and training opportunities for lone mothers. Significant policy changes have taken place in the last decade with a view to creating a more equal society. Yet, this paper argues that gendered assumptions surrounding lone mothers’ position with regard to employment, training and education remain. Society’s traditional assumption of “suitable employment for women” is not a thing of the past. Therefore, while education is one means of empowering lone mothers and freeing them from the poverty trap, it does not address the deep-rooted structural inequalities women face. This is mainly due to paid employment remaining a vulnerable area in relation to gender equality. This is particularly visible in the current economic climate. In March 2009, the ILO warned that the gender impact of the global recession is felt harder by females than males in terms of unemployment rates. This confirms the view that women are still more vulnerable than men in the labour market, which highlights the pressing need for action rather than words in relation to the existing gender equality policies. Furthermore, this paper argues that lone mothers who remain at home caring for their children should be valued and not face automatic poverty. This can only be done through some form of financial security, not by being pushed into paid employment.
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