The Big Start Campaign has released new research, to mark International Women’s Day tomorrow (Friday 8th March), showing that childcare, which has an overwhelmingly female workforce, is the lowest paid sector in the Irish economy. Early Years educator, Niamh Crowley, said: “This research shows that of all the low-paid sectors in the Irish economy it is the Early Years care and education sector which is the lowest paid. The other stand out statistic is that the workforce is overwhelming female at 98%.”  She added: “To hear that we are the lowest paid workers in Ireland is just awful. We work so hard every single day, we do everything that we are supposed to do but we are just not valued the way we should be.”  Childcare Co-ordinator, Lisa Purcell, said: “It’s disgraceful that we’re the lowest paid sector in Ireland. Everyone in the sector needs to pull together so that the importance of our work is recognised and to achieve the pay rise, that we deserve.” SIPTU Big Start Organiser, Aoife Ní Shúilleabháin, said: “Pay in the sector is 53% below the average pay for all employees. Pay in the Early Years sector would have to rise by 11.4% just to reach the next lowest paid sector.” She added: “On International Women’s Day we are asking people to support Early Years workers and their fight for better pay. They deserve respect and recognition for the vital work that they do. That’s why Early Years workers are joining SIPTU, in order to achieve better pay and conditions and improve the sector for everyone.”