What is this Citizens' Assembly about?
A Citizens’ Assembly was established by the Oireachtas in July 2019 with the specific remit to advance gender equality by looking at:
- Our attitudes, beliefs and rules about girls & boys, women & men;
- Care, women and men’s shared responsibility for care; how to achieve greater work-life balance;
- Why certain jobs tend to be done by women & are often paid less;
- How to ensure women have an equal chance to participate and lead in the workplace, politics and public life.
They are also asked to prioritise the proposals taking account of costs versus potential impact.
The Assembly is being chaired by Dr. Catherine Day, former Secretary General of the European Commission. Read more about the Chairperson here.
How do they go about this?
99 citizens were randomly selected by an independent polling company. The 99 are broadly representative of the citizens of Ireland.
As was the case for previous Assemblies, an Expert Advisory Group was put in place to assist the Chair and Secretariat in constructing a fair, balanced and comprehensive work programme for the Assembly on each of the topics set out in the Oireachtas resolution.
There was a public call for submissions and 246 published responses were received. Dr. Pauline Cullen was appointed to analyse and summarise these to ensure they were reflected in the citizens’ deliberations.
The next step was to hold five weekend meetings in person much like previous Citizens’ Assemblies however after the first meeting in February 2020, COVID-19 struck and the entire plan had to change.
The establishment of the Citizens’ Assembly on gender equality was approved by Dáil Éireann on 9 July and Seanad Éireann on 11 July. The resolution sets out specific topics for the Assembly to consider - For more information click here.
The Citizens’ Assembly adapted, moved on-line and continued with the programme of work laid out. The format and duration of the meetings has been redesigned in consultation with the members who have responded with extreme dedication and a strong commitment to continuing their work.
What has it done so far?
JANUARY 2020 - Introductory launch meeting in Dublin Castle
FEBRUARY 2020 (Meeting in person) – First Meeting
JULY 2020 - Online Seminar
This was an opportunity to pilot an online meeting and refine the approach before considering a full online meeting of the Assembly
OCTOBER 2020 - Leadership Meeting online
- Taoiseach Michael Martin T.D., welcome message to the Assembly - watch back here
- In addition, a number of women leaders from a variety of backgrounds shared their perspectives on leadership - Anna May McHugh, Senator Eileen Flynn, Sinead Burke, Deborah Somorin, Aoife Martin, Geraldine Byrne-Nason, Sinead McSweeney, Deirdre Carbery and Jenny Courtney - watch back here
- Summary of public submissions on leadership – watch back here
- Gender Equality, leadership and politics – watch back here
- Gender balance in elected office in Europe – watch back here
- Two advocacy panels heard different perspectives on women in politics, culture, society – and can be viewed here and here
- Women’s experience running for election in Ireland – watch back here
- Women on Air – watch back here
- Women in Sport – watch back here
- Male Champions for Change – watch back here
- Feedback video on the meeting - watch back here
NOVEMBER 2020 - First Work & Welfare Meeting online
- Summary of public submissions on Work & Welfare – watch back here
- Gender pay gap: causes and solutions – watch back here & here
- Measures other countries have taken to reduce the gender pay gap – watch back here
- Experience of working in low paid sectors: gender perspective – watch back here
- Advocacy perspectives from the National Women’s Council, ICTU, IBEC and the Small Firms Association – watch back here
- Personal stories including the perspective of a working parent, a woman with a disability and a migrant woman – watch back here
- Advocacy panel: Work & Pay - watch back here
- Summary of the submissions on the topic from the public consultation – available here
- Feedback video on the meeting - watch back here
DECEMBER 2020 - Second Work & Welfare Meeting online
JANUARY 2021 - Care Meeting online
February 2021 - Article 41 of the Constitution Meeting online
The Assembly meets again on 13th March, which will cover gender based violence in advance of the voting scheduled for April.
COVID-19 has shone an even sharper spotlight on the mandate of the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality. Issues such as care, who provides it and how it is rewarded are even more relevant now to the everyday life of citizens in Ireland and their families arising from the pandemic.
The Assembly has nearly finished examining all the issues under its mandate and will move in the coming meetings to finalising its recommendation and voting. These will play a significant part in ensuring the Ireland of the future is more gender equal and recognises and values care more fully .