Dáil Éireann - Volume 584 - 05 May, 2004

Written Answers. - Equality Issues.

  62. Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the call made at the recent conference in Dublin Castle on gender mainstreaming that all Government policy decisions should be scrutinised to assess their impact on gender equality; the role of the gender equality unit in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12694/04]

  Mr. McDowell: The Gender Mainstreaming — Partnership in Practice conference, which took place on 15 April, was organised by the NDP gender equality unit in my Department and was opened by the Minister of State with responsibility for equality matters, Deputy O’Dea.

Gender mainstreaming is the key strategy adopted at European Union level to advance gender equality, and under the EU Structural Fund regulations, member states are required to use the funds, inter alia, to promote equality of opportunity between women and men. This requires policy makers to take into account the gender impact of policies and programmes at the [1553] planning, design and implementation stages across the Structural Funds.

At the time the national development plan was being finalised, the Government decided that even though EU Structural Funds account for just 7% of the expenditure in the NDP, the gender mainstreaming principles would be applied to the entire plan, with the exception of some infrastructural measures. This means that most expenditure programmes in the €50 billion national development plan are being gender mainstreamed.

The NDP gender equality unit was established in 2000 to assist Departments and implementing bodies with this work, through the provision of advice, training and support. The unit also provides assistance to Departments in carrying out gender impact assessments of policy proposals drawn up in the context of the national development plan. Funding of €5.36 million over the period 2000 to 2006 has been allocated from the national development plan for this purpose. The unit also has a key role in the development of gender disaggregated statistics and indicators to support gender mainstreaming in the national development plan. A gender equality unit has also been established in the Department of Education and Science to deal with gender issues in relation to education policy.

In addition to the gender mainstreaming of the NDP, all memoranda for Government are gender proofed and must identify the impact, if any, on women, of proposals coming before Government. There is also a number of other areas of policy beyond my remit, where Departments are taking account of the gender impacts of policy, such as health, social inclusion, development aid, etc. Taken together, these activities demonstrate this Government’s commitment to gender mainstreaming and to the achievement of equality of opportunity for women and men in Ireland.