About the Citizens' Assembly on Gender Equality
Citizens’ Assembly on
The Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality was established by Oireachtas resolution in July 2019 to ‘consider gender equality and make recommendations to the Oireachtas to advance gender equality by bringing forward proposals to:
challenge the remaining barriers and social norms and attitudes that facilitate gender discrimination towards girls and boys, women and men;
- identify and dismantle economic and salary norms that result in gender inequalities, and reassess the economic value placed on work traditionally held by women;
- in particular, seek to ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in the workplace, politics and public life;
- recognise the importance of early years parental care and seek to facilitate greater work-life balance;
- examine the social responsibility of care and women and men’s co-responsibility for care, especially within the family; and
- scrutinise the structural pay inequalities that result in women being disproportionately represented in low pay sectors.’
The resolution also asked the Assembly ‘to prioritise the proposals, which may include policy, legislative or constitutional change, having regard to the legal requirements and the costs versus the potential impact’. It specified that membership of the Assembly would consist of 100 persons – a Chairperson1 and 99 citizens entitled to vote at a referendum, recruited at national level and randomly selected in accordance with best recruitment practice, as advised by industry experts, so as to be broadly representative of Irish society.
The Resolution also asked the Assembly ‘to prioritise the proposals, which may include policy, legislative or constitutional change, having regard to the legal requirements and the costs versus the potential impact’.
Below you can watch the video played at the inaugural meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality, which gives an overview of the deliberative democratic process and how citizens’ assemblies work.
Find more information on the Citizens’ Assembly on Gener Equality below:
The Chair of the Citizens' Assembly
The Assembly was chaired by Dr. Catherine Day, former Secretary General of the European Commission.
Catherine Day is a former Secretary General of the European Commission, a post she held from 2005 to 2015. She is the first woman to hold this post. Prior to her appointment as Secretary General she was Director General for Environment. She worked in the external relations department of the European Commission as deputy Director General, reporting to Chris Patten. She worked on the future enlargement of the EU in the 1990s and was one of the architects of the pre-accession process for the countries of central and eastern Europe. Catherine worked in the Cabinets of Commissioners Richard Burke, Peter Sutherland and Leon Brittan and joined the European Commission in 1979.
She has a B.A in economics and politics and an M.A. in international trade from UCD. She holds honorary doctorates from UCD and University of Limerick.
Catherine now chairs the Governing Body of University College Cork and the Board of Trustees of the Chester Beatty Library. She is on the board of the European Movement Ireland, the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin and the Irish Times Trust. She was a special adviser to the former resident of the European Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker until 1 December 2019. She was elected to membership of the Royal Irish Academy in 2016. In 2017/2018, at the request of the Minister for Health, she chaired an independent review group to examine the role of voluntary organisations in publicly funded health and personal social services in Ireland.
Expert Advisory Group
Expert Advisory Group
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.
The Oireachtas resolution establishing the Assembly states that “an Expert Advisory Group will be established to assist the work of the Assembly in terms of preparing information and advice.“
The role of the Expert Advisory Group is primarily:
- Supporting 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;
- Providing relevant expert advice on the issues being discussed, including data, research and reference sources;
- Advising on the criteria for selecting specialists/ experts to appear before the Assembly;
- Recommending names for the specialists/ experts to appear before the Assembly;
- Working with the Chair and Secretariat to select speakers from civil society and advocacy groups.
The Expert Advisory Group comprised of academics/practitioners across a number of specific fields of interest.
The members of the Expert Advisory Group on how to advance gender equality were Dr. Ursula Barry (University College Dublin), Professor John Garry (Queen’s University Belfast), Dr. Grainne Healy (Equality Expert), Sandra Healy (Dublin City University), Dr. Tom Hickey (Dublin City University), Dr. Helen Russell (The Economic and Social Research Institute), Dr. Emer Smyth (The Economic and Social Research Institute).
Secretariat to the Citizens' Assembly
The Citizens’ Assembly’s Secretariat was a small team drawn from the civil service.
The team members were
- Dr Mary Clare O’Sullivan (Secretary)
- Lorraine Kavanagh
- Darren Greene
- Bróna Olwill
- Eric Keegan.
The Secretariat assisted the Chair in the efficient running of the Assembly.
The Assembly has now concluded its work and the Secretariat has been reassigned.
Citizens were randomly selected by an independent polling company. They are broadly representative of the Citizens’ of Ireland. For more information on this please click here.
Meetings of the Assembly
The Assembly met offline and online between January 2020 and April 2021. For information on each Assembly meeting please click here.
The Assembly launched 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 Oireachtas resolution provided for the engagement by the Citizens’ Assembly of independent researchers to monitor and record the perceived deliberative quality of the Assembly. Read and download the independent report.