Equality for Women Measure

Equality for Women Measure 2008-2013

The National Development Plan 2007-2013 made provision for a further specific positive action measure to promote gender equality. European Social Funding was provided through the Human Capital Investment Programme.  The Equality for Women Measure 2008-2013 has been designed to build on the achievements of its predecessor, the Equality for Women Measure 2000-2007.

The Department of Justice and Equality has overall responsibility for the delivery of the Measure, the implementation of which is administered by Pobal, in collaboration with the Department.  Overarching management of the programme rests with the Department of Education and Skills. See www.esf.ie 

The purpose of the Equality for Women Measure is to make funding available to foster the engagement and advancement of women and gender equality in a number of economic sectors by focusing on three main Strands:



1.  Access to Employment

Women, largely experiencing disadvantage and outside the labour market

2.  Developing Female Entrepreneurship

Women who are either budding entrepreneurs or early stage entrepreneurs

3.  Fostering Women as Decision -Makers

Women who have the capacity to become decision-makers, including in executive management, boards (state and executive), politics, etc.


Implementing The Measure

The Measure has been delivered in a series of phases. 

Phase 1

Following an initial call for applications, which concentrated on Strand 1, and which was launched before the economic downturn, it became difficult to fund the Measure to the extent that had originally been envisaged due to the need to achieve reductions in the levels of public expenditure.  As a result, in late 2009, thirty-six projects received and offer of funding of €30,000 each, under Strand 1 of the EWM to provide women (who were currently outside the labour market and largely living in areas of socio-economic disadvantage) with the social skills, education and training to enable them to enter or return to the labour market.

In 2010, these projects were afforded the opportunity to renew this funding for a further phase, subject to their having achieved their targets. In total, thirty-two of the original projects availed of this second tranche of funding, which ended in October 2010, as a new phase of the Measure commenced.

Phase 2

A new phase of the Equality for Women Measure 2010-2013 was launched in May 2010 with an open call for applications for funding of up to €50,000 each per annum (renewable for one or more years) under Strands 1, 2 and 3.

Over 200 applications were received under this phase with each application appraised by Pobal Ltd. in accordance with the criteria set out for the Measure. The outcome was announced in Autumn 2010 and by year end forty-two new projects had entered into contracts to deliver projects with the possibility (subject to conditions being met) of a renewal. The total funding commitment exceeds €2.2 million per annum.

The Measure is supported by the European Social Fund under the Human Capital Investment Operational Programme (HCIOP) 2007-2013.

During 2010, over 75 projects were active in supporting the development of women’s economic engagement under the EWM and 42 of these projects continued into 2011.  These projects provided training for over 4,700 women.

Extension of ESF funding to 36 positive action projects

In May 2012 Minister of State for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People, Ms Kathleen Lynch T.D., announced a commitment of over €1.1 million in additional funding to 36 positive action projects across Ireland, which are working to increase women’s participation in the labour market and the broader economy under the ESF funded Equality for Women Measure.

Following a rigorous and open competition, all of these projects were previously selected for ESF funding through the Equality for Women Measure, which forms part of the 2007 – 2013 Human Capital Investment Operational Programme.  Their most recent phase of funding elapsed on 30 April 2012. 

Their funding was extended for a further ten months at the discretion of the groups and a further offer of an extension was made in early 2013.

Achievements of the Measure

Since 2009, over 11,346 (consisting of 8,940 women in Strand 1, Strand 2, 2,070  and Strand 3, 336) women have participated on the programme, with 2012 EWM projects alone revealing a total of 3,173 women participants.

Activities provided by projects include accreditated and non-acredited skills-based training and one to one mentoring, together with a range of other support interventions relevant to the target client base. This may include personal development, CV and interview skills preparation, work placement, career guidance, and life coaching for labour market activities under Strand1 and business development, marketing, and financial management for budding entrepreneurs under Strand 2. Under Strand 3 participants availed of in-service development training. The project has also developed strategies to promote longer term impact both in its own institution and in terms of sharing learning across the Irish higher education sector.

Taking 2012 as a typical year for the Measure, the following is an indication of the annual performance of the Measure

  • In 2012, 29 courses were delivered under Strand 1 (Access to Employment), bringing the cumulative total to 253 since the start of the programme.
  • In 2012, 1,964 women took part in initiatives under Strand 1, bringing the cumulative total who took part in initiatives under Strand 1, to 8,940. The Regional breakdown is 30.3 % for BMW and 69.6% for the S&E. An indicator introduced in the return for last year shows that in 2012 1,047 of the 2012 participants received accredited training.
  • By the end of 2012, it is reported that 590 previous participants had moved into employment or into further mainstream training or education courses
  • In 2012, 1,069 women availed of training under the Entrepreneurship Strand, bringing the cumulative total to 2,070.

Equality for Women Measure 2000–2007

The Equality for Women Measure 2000-2007 had a budget of €37 million, including €3 million European Social Fund (ESF) funding. The measure directly benefited approximately 41,000 women, including over 5,500 women who received certified training.