Derry women are the city's 'hidden unemployed'

Shock statistics which form part of research carried out for regeneration plans for the city have shown that women in Derry have the lowest life expectancy in the North.

The research, discussed at a 'Gender Agenda' meeting held in the city this week also claims that a lot of women in the city are the 'hidden unemployed' with many falling through the net when it comes to receiving jobseekers allowance and not showing up in unemployment figures.

Sinn Fin Foyle MLA Martina Anderson chaired this week's meeting which discussed whether the Regeneration Plans for Derry have taken account of the needs of Women across the city.

Speaking at the event, the equality spokesperson said: "The Regeneration process began by identifying needs and inequalities experienced by a number of groups including women with dependents, married women, and older women. The mission of the plan was to specifically target as many of these inequalities and needs as possible, by developing proposals that would promote equality.

"For instance women in Derry are more likely to be reliant on means tested benefits, and experience greater barriers to economic independence and employment, resulting in more women working part time, in less skilled work, with poorer access to training and progression and ultimately poorer access to pensions and contributions based benefits."

'Ms. Anderson added: "36% of children in Derry live in households dependent on Income Support compared with an average of 20% across the North. The Foyle constituency ranks 2nd in terms of income deprivation and 3rd in terms of employment deprivation.

"The barriers facing women in Derry in terms of participation in the labour market are acknowledged in the draft regeneration plan. Women still bear the vast majority of the responsibility for caring in our society and as such many must fit 'work' around their child rearing and caring responsibilities. Many women in Derry are the 'hidden unemployed'. They are less likely to be in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance, less likely to be included in unemployment figures and more likely to be categorised as economically inactive. This results in women experiencing greater barriers to economic independence and employment; training and progression and ultimately poorer access to pensions and contributions based benefits."

Joanna Boyd, Women's Officer, Derrty City Council, Lynn Carvill, Women's Sector Lobbyist, William Hay MLA, Martina Anderson MLA and Catherine Cooke from Foyle Women's Information Network pictured at a discussion forum organised by the Women's Resource and Development Agency in conjunction with Foyle Women's Information Network entitled a 'Gender Agenda' to address 'One City - One Plan - One Voice' - the draft Regeneration Plan for Derry~Londonderry. The 'Gender Agenda' brought a local women's perspective to the draft regeneration proposals. PIcture: Martin McKeown. 3.12.10