Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality provide landmark recommendations for gender equality in Ireland

Ivana Bacik TD
24 April 2021

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik has welcomed the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality today, calling it a landmark day for gender equality in Ireland. Following a year and a half of discussions, 45 recommendations have been put forward to level the playing field for men and women in Ireland.

Senator Bacik said:

“I am delighted to read the recommendations of the Assembly today. The broad ranging recommendations of changes to the Constitution, and on leadership and politics, on childcare, on care, on domestic and gender-based violence, on pay and social protection, on technology and the media are hugely important and attention must turn to implementation without delay.

“There are some specific areas that Labour has long campaigned on and where recommendations could quickly be implemented if the political will is there to do so. By introducing statutory measures to end the gender pay gap and to provide for other workplace equality measures like the Reproductive Health Leave Bill proposed by the Labour Party last month, we can tackle ongoing discriminations faced by women in the workplace.

“Childcare measures are also vital, and I welcome the Assembly recommendation for a public childcare system and an increase in the State share of GDP spent on childcare. Not surprisingly, when compared to other small open economies in Europe, Ireland’s female labour force participation rate remains low. This is in large part due to Ireland’s unaffordable childcare costs.

“Labour has outlined plans for a scheme which will include early drop-off times and late collection to reflect modern work practices and commute times, and will be based on best practices in education, play and early learning. Only appropriately regulated and inspected childminding services will be eligible to be involved, and we will prioritise community-led, not-for-profit childcare models. Labour would also call on Government in considering any such public model to ensure that childcare workers are paid what they deserve and guarantee at least the Living Wage for all staff.

“The Assembly noted the need to “Hold technology and social media companies accountable for immediately removing online content that constitutes sexual harassment, bullying, stalking, sexually violent or abusive content”. Labour’s landmark “Coco’s Law” to make online harassment and bullying a criminal offence, and to criminalise  the sharing of intimate images without consent, properly known as image based sexual abuse, has represented step in the right direction. Women are too often the targets of online abuse and the social media companies need to do more to address this.

“Lastly, it is important to acknowledge that the Assembly has made a number of recommendations in an effort to increase women in leadership and in politics. One year ago, Ireland was ranked 92nd in the world in terms of women’s representation in parliament, but today we are listed at number 101; we have slipped outside the world’s top 100. This is not because the numbers of women TDs in the Dail has fallen in the last year – since February 2020 there are 36 women out of 160 TDs or 22.5%. But it’s because other countries have taken positive action measures to address the ‘Five C’s’ – the obstacles we identified in a 2009 report on women’s participation in politics that I wrote for the Oireachtas Justice Committee. I am glad to read of the recommendations, including the introduction of maternity leave for all public representatives. These are all positive steps in the right direction.

“The recommendations today represent a step-change in pursuing gender equality in Ireland. I would also like to acknowledge the hard work of Catherine Day as Chair of the Assembly. Through her guidance and leadership, she has overseen a thorough discussion of the key areas which will bring meaningful change to women in Ireland.”

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