Referendum suggested on ‘woman’s life within the home’

National strategy will also examine gender pay gap and lack of women in leadership

National strategy aims to develop “practical tools” to enable companies to calculate and address pay inequality. Illustration: iStock

National strategy aims to develop “practical tools” to enable companies to calculate and address pay inequality. Illustration: iStock

 

A five-year National Strategy for Women and Girls has proposed a number of measures to tackle the gender pay gap.

These include the introduction of wage surveys to be carried out by companies that have more than 50 employees and the development of “practical tools” to enable companies to calculate and address pay inequality.

The 2017-2020 strategy, which was launched at Dublin Castle on Wednesday, sets out 139 actions across six main areas, with further actions due to be added “where necessary over its lifetime”.

One of the recommendations is to hold a referendum on article 41.2.1 of the Constitution regarding a “woman’s life within the home”.

The goals include socio-economic equality for women and girls; advancing physical and mental health and wellbeing; advancing women in leadership at all levels; combating violence against women and embedding gender equality in decision-making.

Unfinished business

Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald said the strategy was aimed at ensuring women and girls in Ireland “have full equality”.

“What this is doing is ensuring every department has an equality perspective as far as women are concerned,” Ms Fitzgerald said. “Sometimes people think that the job is finished. It’s unfinished. It’s an unfinished democracy in terms of the representation of women in lots of different areas.

“It’s about making sure there’s a critical mass of women involved in decision-making across our society and we still don’t have that. We’ve had huge change, massive improvements, but there’s still work to be done.”

The strategy also recommends providing funding for female entrepreneurship while developing further initiatives to encourage more women to apply for the Defence Forces and to increase female participation at all ranks.

Promoting greater visibility of and funding for women’s sport and physical activity is also referred to within the strategy along with encouraging female involvement in decision-making and leadership in the agri-food sector.

Other actions include extending the breast-check programme to women aged 65-69 and extending provision for breastfeeding breaks under employment legislation, which is currently available to mothers of children under six months.

Orla O’Connor, director of the National Women’s Council, welcomed the strategy but said it needed to be backed up with investment in areas such as childcare and tackling violence against women.