· Key thread of Strategy is to promote action on women’s equality.
· Equality has to be a reality for women in all areas of life.
· 139 actions across six high-level objectives
3rd May 2017
The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Ms Frances Fitzgerald, TD and the Minister of State with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, Mr David Stanton, TD, today launched the new National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020: Creating a Better Society for All.
The Tánaiste said: “This is an all of Government Strategy which will ensure that a gender perspective is integrated into decision-making on a wide range of policies. Its implementation will improve the lives of women, be they old or young, rural or urban.”
“The Strategy’s key theme is to promote equality for women and girls across all areas of life, in the workplace, in education, in the family, on public and corporate boards, in sport and the arts. Women’s needs have to be taken into account. At this time of global challenges, we need to ensure that each of us can participate fully in the decisions that will shape our futures.”
“The Strategy includes a series of practical actions to support families, to continue our increased investment in childcare, to support urban and rural women entrepreneurs, to encourage more women into leadership positions on public and corporate boards and to put women’s interests at the heart of decision-making.”
“The Strategy has to be relevant to the Ireland of today where technology and social media are the new realities. I plan to bring forward legislation which will make revenge pornography an offence. This will complement the Domestic Violence Bill which is designed to enhance the protections available to those experiencing domestic violence. Legislation will also be published this year to regulate assisted human reproduction and surrogacy.”
The Strategy sets out 139 actions across six high level-objectives and is intended to be a living document, with further actions added where necessary over its lifetime. Minister Stanton said: “I am calling on men and boys to play their part in advancing the equality of women and girls. We need to change those attitudes and practices that prevent women and girls from participating fully in education, employment and at all levels in public life. As chair of the Strategy Committee, my aim will be to ensure that the Strategy results in real and concrete change for the better for women and girls.”
“We know that achieving full equality for women and girls will benefit our society and our economy. We need business, communities, civil society to get on board to realise the benefits in all of our interests.”
The gathering was also addressed by Orla O’Connor, Director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland.
Notes for Editors:
The National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020: Creating a Better Society for All was prepared by the Gender Equality Division of the Department of Justice and Equality, advised by a Strategy Committee chaired by Minister Stanton. The membership of the Strategy Committee includes all Government Departments, key public bodies, the social partners and civil society, including the National Women’s Council of Ireland. The preparation of the Strategy was also informed by a public consultation process conducted between November 2016 and January 2017, which invited contributions in writing and in person at a series of public meetings held in Cork, Athlone, Dublin and Sligo.
In the first year of the Strategy, by the end of 2017, we will deliver the following:
To advance socio-economic equality for women and girls, we will
· begin to implement, on a phased basis, the new national scheme of financial support for parents towards the cost of quality childcare, and introduce guidelines for schools to facilitate the use of school buildings out-of-hours for school-age childcare (actions 1.4 and 1.5);
· produce a National STEM Education Policy Statement and implementation plan, review the existing research base on barriers to the uptake of STEM careers by women and girls, and commence guidelines for promotion of STEM careers to young people and parent (actions 1.8, 1.9 and 1.10);
· publicise the eligibility of homemakers to apply for Springboard+ courses (action 1.12);
· as part of the mid-term review of the National Policy Statement on Entrepreneurship, examine measures that could ensure an increased number of women start and run their own businesses (action 1.30);
· commission an independent review of the financial and social effects of the amendments to the One-Parent Family payment made since 1 January 2012, taking into account the effects on welfare dependency and the poverty rates of those in receipt of the one-parent family payment (action 1.36).
To advance the physical and mental health and well-being of women and girls, we will
· include a specific section directed to the care and support of women and girls from diverse ethnic backgrounds in the second HSE National Intercultural Strategy (action 2.7);
· publish the new Drug Strategy, with measures to increase the range of wrap-around services to meet the needs of women who are using drugs and/or alcohol in a harmful manner, including those with children and those who are pregnant (action 2.24); and
· publish legislative proposals for regulation of surrogacy and assisted human reproduction (action 2.25).
To advance women in leadership at all levels, we will
· include recommendations to increase female representation in the leadership of sports organisations in the new national policy framework for sport (action 4.4);
· conclude research by the ESRI on barriers preventing women from application for senior positions in the Civil Service, and take follow-up action (action 4.9); and
· introduce a new Systems Performance Framework for Higher Education Institutions, which will monitor progress in relation to gender balance in the sector (action 4.13).
To combat violence against women, we will
· commence the provisions of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 relating to harassment orders, evidence, the cross-examination of complainants and regulating the disclosure of counselling records (action 5.8);
· aim to enact the Victims of Crime Bill, providing for information, support and assistance to victims across all of their interactions with criminal justice agencies (action 5.11);
· aim to enact the Domestic Violence Bill to enhance the protections available to victims of domestic violence (action 5.12); and
· bring forward legislative proposals to provide for offences relating to harmful communications, including an offence to target revenge pornography (action 5.14).
We will also commence work on the programme of actions to ensure the visibility in society of women and girls, and their equal and active citizenship, and to embed gender equality in decision-making.
The overall goal of the Strategy for the 2017-2020 period is to change attitudes and practices preventing women’s and girls’ full participation in education, employment and public life, at all levels, and to improve services for women and girls, with priority given to the needs of those experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, the poorest outcomes.
This goal will be advanced through 139 actions across six high level-objectives, as follows:
· Advance socio-economic equality for women and girls
· Advance the physical and mental health and well-being of women and girls
· Ensure the visibility in society of women and girls, and their equal and active citizenship
· Advance women in leadership at all levels
· Combat violence against women
· Embed gender equality in decision-making
The Strategy is intended to be a living document and further actions will be added where necessary over its lifetime.
Specific actions are set out which are intended to address particular issues, and identify the organisations responsible for their implementation. They include the following commitments:
• to aim to reduce the gap in poverty rates between female-headed households and male-headed households, including by addressing the Working Family Payment;
• to increase women’s access to pensions in their own right by improving their access to private and occupational pensions, and to assess pension reform policy for gender impact;
• to expand paid family leave for the first year of a child’s life, and to implement, on a phased basis, a new national scheme of supports for childcare;
• to increase women’s employment rates to the target of 69-71% set in Europe 2020;
• to bring forward legislation to address precarious working and casualization;
• to undertake a package of measures on the gender pay gap, including undertaking wage surveys in companies of 50+ employees;
• to support female entrepreneurship through targeted programmes for rural women, and a targeted Competitive Start Fund and networking and support initiatives;
• to produce a national STEM Education Policy Statement to promote greater participation by women and girls in STEM subjects and in STEM-related careers;
• to promote greater visibility of, and funding for, women’s sport, including greater visibility in the broadcast media; and, under a new national policy framework, to encourage female involvement in decision-making in sports organisations;
• to work in partnership with the National Women’s Council of Ireland to identify women’s health needs through an action plan for women’s health;
• to reduce the time needed to live apart to get divorced;
• to support initiatives to encourage men and boys to be champions of gender equality; and
• to apply the Social Impact Assessment framework in the area of Early Years policy and programmes.
Actions applicable to all Government Departments
The actions applicable to all Government Departments include the following:
• to address gender equality formally in strategic planning, policies and practices, and annual reports, in line with the public sector duty under section 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014, including in recruitment and promotion of staff in the public service;
• to develop in-house expertise in gender mainstreaming; and to consider gender impact in the development of new strategies and the review of existing strategies, and to ensure that the design and review of funding and grant schemes includes measures to ensure gender equality.