2013 Archive

Gender Pay Gap: Women in Europe still work 59 days 'for free', European Commission report finds.

Press Release European Commission, Brussels, 9 December 2013

16.2%: that’s the size of the gender pay gap, or the average difference between women and men’s hourly earnings across the EU, according to the latest figures released by the European Commission. The figure has not moved an inch in the space of a year. According to the report the pay gap between women and men is still a reality in all EU countries, ranging from 27.3% in Estonia to 2.3% in Slovenia. Overall figures confirm a weak downward trend in recent years, with a decrease of 1.1% between 2008 and 2011. The report shows the biggest problem in fighting the EU pay gap is the practical application of equal pay rules and the lack of legal action brought by women to national courts.

"With laws guaranteeing equal pay for equal work, equality in the workplace and minimum rights to maternity leave, gender equality is a European achievement. But there is still a way to go to full gender equality. The pay gap is still large and it is not budging. To make things worse: much of the change actually resulted from a decline in men’s earnings rather than an increase for women," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner. "The principle of equal pay for equal work is written in the EU Treaties since 1957. It is high time that it becomes a reality in the workplace as well."

The report assesses the application of the provisions on equal pay in practice in EU countries, and predicts that for the future, the main challenge for all Member States will be the correct application and enforcement of the rules established by the 2006 Equality Directive.

The Commission as the Guardian of the Treaties has ensured Member States have correctly transposed EU equal treatment rules, launching infringement cases against 23 Member States regarding the way these Member States transposed a number of EU gender equality laws. All but one of these cases have been closed.

However, the report confirms the effective application of the equal pay principle is hindered by the lack of transparency in pay systems, the lack of clear benchmarks on pay equality, and by a lack of clear information for workers that suffer inequality. Increased wage transparency could improve the situation of individual victims of pay discrimination who would be able to compare themselves more easily to workers of the other sex.


Gender equality is one of the founding principles of the European Union. The principle of equal pay has been enshrined in the Treaties since 1957 and is also incorporated in Directive 2006/54/EC on equal treatment between women and men in employment and occupation.

The European Commission's support for the Member States' duty to tackle the gender pay gap is an important commitment and priority, enshrined in the European Commission's Strategy for equality between women and men (2010-2015).

This report is accompanied by a comprehensive overview of national and EU case law on equal pay, as well as an overview of the Commission's action to tackle it and examples of national best practices.

Examples of Commission action to tackle the gender pay gap include the Equality Pays Off Initiative; annual Country Specific Recommendations warning Member States to address the pay gap; European Equal Pay Days; exchange of best practices; and financing of Member State initiatives through the Structural Funds.

The Report can be viewed here.




"Violence Against Women: An Issue of Gender," Minister Frances Fitzgerald launches new publication.

National Women's Council of Ireland, December 04, 2013

At the launch and publication of "Violence Against Women: An Issue of Gender: Highlighting the Role of Gender in Analysis and Response", the Irish Observatory on Violence Against Women, chaired by National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) called for Ireland to sign, ratify and implement the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, to eradicate all forms of violence against women, specifically rape. The publication was launched by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Ms. Frances Fitzgerald, during the 16 days of action, part of a European wide strategy to highlight the need to implement the Convention.

Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid said,
"One in five women in Ireland will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives. In the context of the prolonged recession, there has been a worrying decrease in the options and services available to victims of all forms violence against women."

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI added,
"Violence against women comes at a high cost to society and responses need to be located within a gender equality framework. Our publication highlights how service providers must be aware of how gender creates different roles for women and men in society. It is by taking account of unequal power relations between women and men that service providers will be able to address different vulnerabilities experienced by different groups of women and men.

"There can be no real equality between women and men if women experience gender-based violence on a large-scale, and state agencies and institutions turn a blind eye. The Council of Europe Convention is a benchmark at international level, and Ireland must show its commitment to eradicating all forms of male violence against women by signing, ratifying and implementing the Convention as a matter of urgency."

Cracking Europe's Glass Ceiling: European Parliament backs Commission's Women on Boards proposal.


Press Release European Commission, Brussels, 20 November 2013

The European Parliament has today voted with an overwhelming majority (459 for, 148 against and 81 abstentions) to back the European Commission’s proposed law to improve the gender balance in Europe’s company boardrooms. The strong endorsement by the Members of the European Parliament means the Commission’s proposal has now been approved by one of the European Union’s two co-legislators. Member States in the Council now need to reach agreement on the draft law, amongst themselves and with the European Parliament, in order for it to enter the EU statute book. The plenary vote follows a clear endorsement for the Commission’s initiative from the Parliament’s two leading committees, the Legal Affairs (JURI) and Women’s Rights & Gender Equality (FEMM) committee on 14 October 2013. The most recent figures confirm that, following the Commission's determined action in this area, the share of women on boards across the EU has been on the rise for the past three years and has now reached 16.6%, up from 15.8% in October 2012

"Today's European Parliament vote is a historic moment for gender equality in Europe," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner. "The directly-elected European Parliament has made its voice heard loud and clear: Europe needs strong rules to tackle the gender imbalance in company boardrooms. I would like to thank rapporteurs Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou and Evelyn Regner for their hard work and committed support of the Commission's proposal. The Parliament has made the first cracks in the glass ceiling that continues to bar female talent from the top jobs. The Council of Ministers, the EU's second Chamber, should now rise to the challenge and make swift progress on this draft law, which places qualification and merit centre stage."

These are the most important points of the European Parliament's vote today, building on the main pillars of the Commission's proposals:

  •  It confirms the Commission's approach to focus on a transparent and fair selection procedure (a so-called "procedural quota") rather than introducing a fixed quantitative quota.
  •  Small and medium-sized enterprises remain excluded from the scope of the directive but Member States are invited to support and incentivise them to significantly improve the gender balance at all levels of management and on boards.
  •  Departing from the Commission’s original proposal, there will be no possibility for Member States to exempt companies from the law where members of the underrepresented sex make up less than 10% of the workforce.
  •  The Parliament strengthened the provision on sanctions by adding a number of sanctions that should be obligatory, rather than indicative, as the Commission had proposed. Under the Parliament’s text, sanctions for failure to respect the provisions concerning selection procedures for board members should include exclusion from public procurement and partial exclusion from the award of funding from the European structural funds.

Next Steps: In order to become law, the Commission's proposal needs to be adopted jointly by the European Parliament and by the EU Member States in the Council (which votes by qualified majority). Todays' plenary vote by the European Parliament follows positive opinions on the initiative from five Parliamentary committees: the Legal Affairs (JURI) and Women’s Rights & Gender Equality (FEMM), Employment (EMPL), Internal Market (IMCO) and Economic Affairs (ECON) Committees.

The Council, which decides on this proposal on an equal footing with the European Parliament, took stock of progress achieved under the Irish Presidency at a meeting of Employment and Social Affairs ministers (EPSCO Council) on 20 June 2013. Ministers are next due to discuss the draft law at their meeting on 9-10 December 2013. 


On 14 November 2012, the Commission adopted a proposal for a directive setting a minimum objective of having 40% of the under-represented sex in non-executive board-member positions in listed companies in Europe by 2020, or 2018 for listed public undertakings.

Main elements of the draft law:

  •  If a publicly listed company in Europe does not have 40% of women among its non-executive board members, the new law will require it to introduce a new selection procedure for board members which gives priority to qualified female candidates.
  •  The law places the emphasis firmly on qualification. Nobody will get a job on the board just because they are a woman. But no woman will be denied a job because of their gender either.
  •  The law only applies to the supervisory boards or non-executive directors of publicly listed companies, due to their economic importance and high visibility. Small and medium enterprises are excluded.
  • Individual EU Member States will have to lay down appropriate and dissuasive sanctions for companies in breach of the Directive.
  • The law is a temporary measure. It will automatically expire in 2028.
  • The law also includes, as a complementary measure, a "flexi quota": an obligation for companies listed on a stock exchange to set themselves individual, self-regulatory targets regarding the representation of both sexes among executive directors to be met by 2020 (or 2018 in case of public undertakings). Companies will have to report annually on the progress made.

Monday 18 November 2013

Germany set to introduce board gender quotas under expected coalition


German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD) have agreed to introduce legislation requiring German companies to allot 30% of their non-executive board seats to women from 2016.

 Negotiators from the two sides are in talks to form a coalition government. They said the agreement would involve listed companies and those with a works council. Three weeks of coalition talks have made modest progress. Both sides are making concessions but the conservatives want their victory in September's election reflected in the deal.

Germany introduced voluntary targets for women in top management positions in 2001, but little changed. In 2011 blue-chip companies agreed to try to boost women on boards, again through voluntary targets.

The centre-left SPD had pushed for 40% women on boards in stages from 2021. The conservatives had resisted fixed targets.


"This is an important signal to improve the career chances for women and for greater equality in the labour market," said Manuela Schwesig, who led the talks for the SPD.

Annette Widmann-Mauz, leading the talks for Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU), called the agreement a breakthrough for women.

Under the new law, companies unable to appoint women to at least 30% of open board seats from 2016 would be required to leave those seats vacant. "It's a toad that we're going to have to swallow," said CDU parliamentarian Michael Fuchs. "There are companies where that's going to be difficult."

Women currently hold about 12% of corporate board seats, according to German media reports. Among the 30 largest DAX companies, women have 101 of the 488 board seats, or 22%, according to the DSW, Germany's largest association of private investors.

The European Commission last year proposed requiring companies with more than 250 workers and listed in European Union countries to have 40% women on their boards by 2020. Germany and other EU countries resisted. Germany said those rules should be set at the national level.

Norway, which is not an EU member, imposed a 40% quota in 2003, a target reached in 2009. Norwegian companies can be liquidated if they fail to reach the target.


Secretary General welcomes multiannual gender equality strategy

Strasbourg, 13 November 2013

Addressing the Council of Europe Gender Equality Commission at its 4th meeting in Strasbourg, Secretary General Jagland welcomed the elaboration of the multiannual gender equality strategy, recently adopted by the Committee of Ministers, and said he was impressed by the Gender Equality Commission's achievements with regard to six ambitious objectives:

  • 26 of 28 steering committees and three monitoring bodies have now appointed Gender Equality Rapporteurs to ensure that the gender dimension is given due consideration in their work;
  • A visible and influential Network of National Focal Points in the area of gender equality has been established;
  • Co-operation with partner organisations has been further developed, for example around the promotion of the Istanbul Convention;
  • Support has been provided to countries in neighbouring regions;
  • With 25 signatures and six ratifications (seven when Austria ratifies tomorrow), we should feel proud and reassured about the way the Istanbul Convention is gaining ground and recognition in Europe and beyond;
  • and concerning gender equality within the Council of Europe secretariat – the percentage of women at senior management level has increased from 30% (2011) to 43% in 2013. Women at middle management level are now 30% (28% in 2011). A gender-mainstreamed analysis of our recruitment and selection processes has been conducted by an independent expert to identify and address possible bias and gender stereotypes in our current practices.


Accelerating progress towards gender equality: the Council of Europe strategy for 2014-2017

Although the legal status of women in Europe has improved during recent decades, effective equality is far from being a reality. Even if progress is visible (educational attainment, labour market participation, political representation), gender gaps persist in many areas, maintaining men in their traditional roles and constraining women’s opportunities to affirm their fundamental rights and assert their agency. The most pronounced expression of the uneven balance of power between women and men is violence against women, which is both a human rights violation and a major obstacle to gender equality.

On 6 November 2013, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted the Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy for the period 2014-2017.

The overall goal of the Strategy is to achieve the advancement and empowering of women and the effective realisation of gender equality in Council of Europe member states. The Strategy sets five strategic objectives:

  • Combating gender stereotypes and sexism;

  •  Preventing and combating violence against women;

  • Guaranteeing Equal Access of Women to Justice;

  • Achieving balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making;

  • Achieving Gender Mainstreaming in all policies and measures.

The Strategy emanates from an unprecedented mobilisation in the Council of Europe through its new Transversal Gender Equality Programme. It presupposes that all Council of Europe decision-making, advisory and monitoring bodies should support and actively contribute to its implementation. The Committee of Ministers has invited the Gender Equality Commission to follow closely the implementation of the Strategy and asked the Secretary General to report annually on progress achieved.


Cosc - The National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence

30 October 2013

Seventh progress report on National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2010-2014.

The seventh progress report on the National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2010-2014 was considered by the Strategy Oversight Committee at its meeting on the 16th of October 2013.

The committee noted general good progress in implementing activities and welcomed the improvement in the number of activities deemed completed. The committee also noted that while there was a small increase in the numbers of activities having fallen behind schedule, work is underway to bring those activities to completion.

The Strategy Oversight Committee is chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality, Mr. Brian Purcell, and includes representatives of the principal Government Departments and State agencies with responsibility for implementing the activities of the strategy, the Department of Health, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, the Department of Education and Skills, An Garda Síochána, the Health Service Executive and Cosc. The role of the Committee is to monitor the implementation of the Strategy and to assist in identifying solutions to any delays in implementation.

The progress report is prepared by Cosc from information provided by the key State bodies identified in the strategy.  Observations on the report from the National Steering Committee on Violence against Women and the National Steering Committee on Violence against Men are reported to the Oversight Committee and incorporated into the report where necessary.

The seventh progress report may be accessed here .


Geneva, 23 October 2013

Ireland maintains 6th position on global gender gap list

The world’s gender gaps narrowed slightly this year, with Iceland showing the least inequality among men and women, a report by the World Economic Forum found.

The Global Gender Gap Report, published yesterday, found "definite if not universal improvements" in economic equality and political participation between the sexes in the ranking of 136 countries. Of those countries measured this year and last, 86 improved, the Geneva-based WEF said in an e-mailed statement.

Finland ranked second this year followed by Norway and then Sweden, unchanged from last year. Iceland has held the top spot for five years in a row.

Ireland maintained its position as sixth on the list for a second year.

Thanks to generous maternity leave provisions and inexpensive daycare for children, Nordic countries have high labor participation rates for women. There are two female prime ministers and two female finance ministers in that region.

Norway’s historic quota system for women on supervisory boards is being copied elsewhere in Europe: Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, France and Iceland either plan to, or have already implemented similar policies.

The European Commission, the European Union’s regulatory arm, proposed a quota system in 2012 to bring more women onto corporate boards.

Limited leadership

Globally, inequality remains greatest in the areas of economic equality and political participation, according to the index. First compiled in 2006, it considers economic, political, education and health-based criteria.

"In both developing and developed countries alike, relative to the numbers of women in tertiary education and in the workforce overall, women’s presence in economic leadership positions is limited," the WEF said in the study.

Among Group of 20 economies, Germany, where Angela Merkel won a third term as chancellor, ranked highest. It dropped a place to 14th compared with 2012. South Africa ranked 17th, with the UK coming in 18th and Canada at 20th. The US was 23rd, while Russia ranked 61st, followed by Brazil at 62nd.

The International Monetary Fund will push countries to publish more data on female participation in the labor market in an effort to draw attention to policies that could boost growth from Italy to Egypt, Managing Director Christine Lagarde said last month.

Gap closing

Nicaragua, which has now featured in the top ten for two years, was Latin America’s leader in closing the gender gap in the study, largely due to "political empowerment." Cuba followed at 15th, with Ecuador in 25th place. The Philippines ranked highest among countries in Asia, "due to success in health, education and economic participation."

China’s place in the ranking was unchanged at 69th, while India climbed four places to 101st, above Japan at 105th. In Africa, several countries -- Lesotho, South Africa, Burundi and Mozambique -- featured in the top 30 this year due to women’s participation in the workforce, according to the WEF.

"Through this economic activity, women have greater access to income and economic decision-making, but are often present in low-skilled and low-paid sectors of the economy," it said.

The only region not to have improved its standing was the Middle East and North Africa, the report found.

The United Arab Emirates ranked 109th, the highest-placed Arab country in the region, which achieved parity in education. Bahrain ranked 112th, with Qatar at 115th, "still failing to adequately capitalize on the investments in education through greater economic and political contributions from women," it said.

At the bottom of the ranking were Chad (134th), Pakistan (135th) and Yemen (136th).

The Global Gender Gap Report 2013

Country Profiles


Thursday 17 October 2013

European Commission publishes two new Reports on Gender Equality

The European Commission has published two new reports exploring aspects of gender equality.

The first is a Mid-term review of the Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015 which reviews progress in the implementation of the Commission's five year Strategy.   This review finds that, half-way through the strategy’s five-year time scale, the Commission is delivering on its commitments. It has taken action in the majority of areas covered, in particular in improving the gender balance in economic decision-making, tackling female genital mutilation, promoting equal pay and promoting equality within the EU’s overall economic strategy. The mid-term review confirms that the Women's Charter and the Strategy continue to provide an ambitious policy framework for promoting gender equality in the EU.

The second newly published Report is a review of the progress being made by women to achieve decision-making positions. The report looks at the current situation and recent progress for gender balance across a range of decision-making positions in the public and private sectors, including business, financial institutions, politics, civil service and the judiciary.

How is Ireland performing in relation to women and Decision-making?

The European Commission tracks progress of women into decision-making roles in economic decision-making; politics, public administration and the judiciary.

Economic Decision-Making:

Representation of women on the boards of large publicly listed companies, April 2013

  • Ireland 10.7%  EU-27 average 16.6%

Share of women amongst non-executive directors of large listed companies, April 2013

  • Ireland 13.1%  EU-27 average 17.6%

Share of women amongst senior executives of large listed companies, April 2013

  • Ireland 7.7%  EU-27 average 11.0%

Representation of women in national central banks, 2013

  • Ireland 21.4%  EU-27 average 18.6%


Share of women in national parliaments (single/lower house), 2013

  • Ireland 16.0%  EU-27 average 27.0%

Representation of women in national parliaments (senior ministers), 2013

  • Ireland 13.0%  EU-27 average 27.0%

Public Administration:

Share of women in the top two levels of (non-political) administrators in national administrations, 2012

Level One (Secretary General equivalent in Ireland)

  • Ireland 13.0%  EU-27 average 29%

Level Two (Deputy Secretary and Assistant Secretary General equivalent in Ireland)

  • Ireland 26.0%  EU-27 average 37.0%

The Judiciary:

Representation of women amongst judges of national supreme courts, 2012

  • Ireland 11.0%*  EU-27 average 24.0%

* The current figure for Ireland (at October 2013) is 30% following the appointment of Ms. Justice Elizabeth Dunne and Ms. Justice Mary Laffoy from the High Court to the Supreme Court.


Dublin, Thursday 10 October 2013

Government respond positively to Constitutional Convention’s Second Report on role of women in the home and on increasing their participation in politics & public life.

During a Dáil debate today, the Minister for Justice & Equality, Mr Alan Shatter TD, delivered the Government’s response to the recommendations in the Second Report of the Convention on the Constitution. The Report deals with the clause in the Constitution on the role of women in the home and with steps which might be taken to increase the participation of women in public and political life. It also examines two supplementary motions proposing the incorporation of the principle of gender equality into the Constitution and calling for gender-inclusive language in the Constitution.

Welcoming the Report, Minister Shatter accepted its first recommendation on the need to amend the language in Article 41.2 of the Constitution on the role of women in the home. Mindful that a number of wordings have been proposed previously in this regard, he committed the Government to examining the Convention’s recommendations and other views that may arise with the object of finding the most appropriate wording to present in a future Referendum, promising that full account will be taken of the comments of the Convention including those in relation to carers. A task force to prepare a suitable text will be convened in the Department of Justice and Equality, collaborating with other Departments and the Office of the Attorney General as necessary with a view to completing the required work and reporting back to Government by 31 October 2014.

Secondly, the Minister accepted the recommendation of the Convention that further positive actions be taken by Government to foster the advancement of women in political and public life, noting the commitments contained in the Programme for Government and initiatives already undertaken by Government.

Speaking on the two supplementary recommendations of the Convention, Minister Shatter said that further detailed examination of the proposals was required. The incorporation of the principle of gender equality into the Constitution would be considered in conjunction with the previous recommendation of the CEDAW Committee, while amending the text to include gender-inclusive language through out, is likely to require extensive textual amendments to the Constitution. Accordingly, the Government was tasking the Department of Justice and Equality to undertake a study of the changes needed before Government considers these recommendations further.

In his concluding remarks to the House, the Minister invited Deputies to contribute to the process in which the Government is engaged saying:

"If there are specific proposals they [Deputies] wish to make as to the content of an article that might implement the convention's views or which might contribute towards the deliberations on the appropriate replacement for Article 41.2, I would invite such a contribution. Moreover, my Department and the committee that is being established would greatly welcome that."

Statement by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter, TD, to the Dáil – Second Report of the Constitutional Convention on Role of Women – Government’s Response

Dáil Debate on Second Report of the Convention on the Constitution.

Second Report of the Convention on the Constitution


Vilnius, Tuesday 1 October 2013

Gateway to EU gender equality knowledge launched

The European Institute of Gender Equality(EIGE) have just launched their Resource and Documentation Centre - For the first time ever more than 240,000 resources on gender equality in the EU are available through one portal.

Knowledge available at the right time to the right people

When one needs to find the right information on gender equality in the EU, then EIGE is the place to be. The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) today launched its Resource and Documentation Centre (RDC) with an EU-wide conference in Vilnius in the presence of EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Maire Geoghegan-Quinn and Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy of Bulgaria, Lazar Lazarov.  "Our RDC will become the first place to search, to find, to inter-act and to learn about equality between women and men in the European Union" Virginija Langbakk, Director of the Institute.

EIGE collects, processes and makes available data, tools, methods, good practices and resources on gender equality and makes this information available via its RDC. It aims to assist policy makers and practitioners in locating key resources on gender equality. It also facilitates the exchange of knowledge amongst those with an interest in gender equality policy and practice and provides a space to discuss and debate key issues on gender equality.

The long-term objective is to bring together in one place the memory of all gender equality work at EU and Member State level and to make it accessible to all, actively fostering cooperation between gender equality actors across the EU.

EIGE’s Resource and Documentation Centre is built around three main functions:

  1. Online and physical documentation centre : 240,000 gender equality related resources that were, until now, scattered across a multitude of sources throughout the EU;
  2. Knowledge centre: gender equality knowledge produced by the Institute including specialised research and databases;
  3. European network on gender equality - EuroGender: an online collaborative platform where decision makers, experts and other stakeholders can debate gender equality issues and share their expertise and resources.

Knowledge of resources on gender equality is crucial to strengthen the capacity for gender mainstreaming in policies and programs. Access to reliable and comparable gender statistics are universally considered to be important levers for achieving de facto gender equality. The mission of the European Institute for Gender Equality is to be(come) the knowledge centre on gender equality for the European Union and the Member States.

A multitude of gender equality actors exist at EU and Member State level. The vast amount of data, knowledge and resources they produce or process in the field of gender equality are not always easily identified or accessible to decision makers, practitioners, researchers or citizens. The European Institute for Gender Equality has managed to create a single gateway to access this information. For this purpose EIGE teamed up with five documentation centres and libraries specialised in women and gender issues, namely:

  • Amazone - Resource Centre for Equality between Women and Men in Brussels;
  • Atria - institute on gender equality and women’s history in Amsterdam;
  • Cid-femmes et genre - Information and documentation centre for women and gender issues in Luxembourg;
  • Gender Library of the Centre for trans disciplinary Gender Studies at Humboldt-Universität zu BerlinGender Library;
  • KvinnSam - National Resource Library for Gender Studies at Gothenburg University;
  • Kvinfo – The Danish Centre for Research and Information on Gender, Equality and Diversity

The uniqueness of EIGE’s Resource and Documentation Centre is complemented by other important like:

Quick and easy access to more than 238 000 resources on gender equality;
Multilingual resources (English, French, German, Dutch, Swedish – more languages to follow)

The RDC is available via http://eige.europa.eu/rdc


Monday 30 September 2013

RTE currently have an online archive exhibition dealing with Women in Irish Society

"RTÉ Archives looks at some of the experiences of women in Irish society, from the housewives who washed their husbands' socks by hand in 1960s Dublin to the era of Ireland's first female president Mary Robinson in the 1990s. RTÉ News cameras were there to film the Irish Women's Liberation Movement in 1971, when they took the contraceptive train to Belfast and defied Dublin customs by illegally bringing their contraceptives past the barrier at Connolly Station in a landmark moment in the Irish women's movement. RTÉ Radio set out to give women a voice in 1979 with the ground-breaking progamme 'Women Today' and many housewives sought an outlet for their troubles through letters to 'The Gay Byrne Show'."




Monday 09 September 2013

Women outperform men in civil service recruitment

Women outperform men at securing top jobs in the civil service, according to a report published today.

The Report of the Top Level Appointments Committee, known as TLAC, assessed the recruitment for senior positions in the civil service at Secretary General or Assistant Secretary level between July 2011 and December 2012. The report states that women consistently succeed in higher proportions than men at all stages of the TLAC recruitment process.

It found a steady trend showing that while women represent 24% of applicants, they succeed in higher proportions at all stages. Five years ago, female candidates accounted for 12.5% of appointments, but since 2010, cumulatively they have accounted for 41% of appointments.

TLAC recommends an investigation into why there are relatively low levels of applications from women, even though women consistently outperform their male counterparts at all stages of the TLAC process, including appointments.

Traditionally, senior civil service posts would have been filled through the promotion of serving civil servants. However, the number of candidates from outside the civil service is gradually rising. As of 2012, a quarter of all appointments involved non-civil servants. Most of the external appointments involved private sector applicants, with applications and appointments from the wider public and semi-state sector were low.

The number of private sector candidates for top civil service positions increased from 4.5% in 2010 to 21% in 2012.

The report also notes that some private sector applicants perceive the civil service as a closed shop, where an external candidate would find it difficult to succeed - and that exposure to public scrutiny can act as a deterrent.

TLAC also refers to the "sometimes negative perceptions of the calibre of civil servants", but states that it found a high standard of candidates from the civil service.

TLAC received 1,073 applications in 35 competitions for top jobs, and 34 appointments were made.

The report also notes that there is increasing mobility between government departments.

TLAC calls for a more detailed assessment of potential barriers to applying for top posts.


UN Women

The gender dimension of the Millennium Development Goals Report 2013

Since their adoption more than 13 years ago, significant and substantial progress has been made in meeting many of the eight Millennium Development Goals, including visible improvements in all health areas as well as primary education, and halving the number of people living in extreme poverty. However, progress is uneven, particularly for women and girls, and in many areas far from sufficient.

According to the Millennium Development Goals Report 2013, launched on 1 July by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, too many women around the world are still dying in childbirth when we have the means to save them; only 53 per cent of births in rural areas are attended by skilled health personnel. In developing regions, women are more likely than men to work as contributing family workers on farms or other family businesses, with little or no financial security or social benefits.

The report also acknowledges that persisting gender-based inequalities in decision-making continue to deny women a say in the decisions that affect their lives.

Find out more about how women and girls are faring in progress towards each of these goals, and UN Women efforts towards meeting the MDGs by the end of 2015.




Ireland held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from January to June 2013.

For a summary of the gender equality related news and events which took place during the Irish Presidency, and to read the Report on Ireland's Presidency Programme on Gender Equality, please visit our EU Presidency page.

Amsterdam, 4-5 July 2013

"Media and the Image of Women" - Conference of the Council of Europe Gender Equality Commission organised in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands

Please find below the link to the webpage of the recent Conference  "Media and the Image of Women" organised by the Gender Equality Commission of the Council of Europe in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands.

The website of the Conference will continue to be updated and in there you will be able to find the programme of the Conference, background information and documents, speeches and presentations, conference conclusions, the list of participants, photos and a video clip.



Vilnius, 8 July 2013

Women under-represented in decision-making in media organisations

Women hold only 22 % of strategic decision-making posts in the public media and only 12 % in the private media organisations in the EU-27– as the research of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) shows. ‘Increased number of women in the decision-making structures of media organisations would bring social justice, better use of talents and innovative decisions. It would also improve media content.’ - says Virginija Langbakk, Director of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE). 

EIGE’s new report 'Advancing gender equality in decision-making in media organisations' presents for the first time reliable and comparable EU-wide data on women and men in decision making in the media sector. The report will support policymakers and all relevant institu­tions in their efforts to achieve gender equality.

EIGE’s report points out that the organisational culture within media structures remains largely masculine, despite the fact that women considerably outnumber men in university-level education in this field and constitute nearly half the workforce within the media industry. Women continue to be significantly underrepresented in decision-making structures, both at operational levels as senior managers and at strategic levels, as chief executive officers and board members of major media organisations across the EU Member States.

There is a significant difference between the private and public media sectors. In public media organisations the ratio of women to men occupying strategic decision-making position is only 1 in 5, whereas in private media organisations it decreases to only 1 in 10. Within the decision-making boards of media organisations women represent only 25% of all members.

Despite the fact that organisations implementing gender equality policies and measures are more likely to have a higher proportion of women in strategic decision-making positions, EIGE’s research shows that gender-equality plans, diversity policies and codes of conduct exist only in around a quarter of the surveyed media organisations. Only few organisations have formal mechanisms in place to monitor their gender equality policies. Sixteen percent of the surveyed organisations have a committee responsible for equality-policy issues, 14 % have an equality/diversity officer and 9 % an equality/diversity department.  In general, public media organisations are more likely than private ones to have a gender equality policy, code or measure in place.

Self-regulation has been the main strategy for the media industry. ‘Many politicians have been reluctant to take action concerning gender equality in the media because there is a risk that it could be seen as a form of censorship or a way of limiting freedom of expression, if the media industry becomes more regulated.  On the other hand, it is time to think whose freedom of expression is being protected or hampered. Until now news agendas have been mostly about men for men.’ says Dr Maria Edström, expert on women and the media from the University of Gothenburg.

Based on EIGE’s report, the Council of the European Union has adopted conclusions on ‘Advancing Women’s Roles as Decision-Makers in the Media’ and took note of the first indicators for monitoring the implementation of the area of Women and the Media of the Beijing Platform for Action within the EU Member States.

In line with the findings presented in EIGE’s report, the Council calls on the Member States and the European Commission to take active measures to foster gender equality at all levels, including women’s advancement in decision-making roles in the media industry. The Council also calls for enhancing awareness of gender equality within the media sector and the exchange of good practices between Member States in this area, which will support the process of achieving a gender-equal society.

Read more: Advancing gender equality in decision-making in media organisations: Report

Report’s factsheet


Brussels, 13 June 2013

New Gender Equality Index places Ireland Ninth across EU

Need for more work on "women and decision-making" says Minister of State Kathleen Lynch, but increasing women’s labour market participation can foster economic well being and deter poverty

Minister of State for Equality, Ms. Kathleen Lynch T.D. today (13th June 2013) delivered one of the keynote addresses at the launch in Brussels of the new Gender Equality Index developed by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE).  She joined the President of the European Council Mr. Herman Van Rompuy on the platform at this high profile event.

The European Institute for Gender Equality was assigned the task of constructing an index on gender equality which would reflect the multi-faceted reality of gender equality, and would be specifically tailored towards the policy framework of the European Union and Member States.  The complex work on the development of the Gender Equality Index for Europe took nearly three years and the results were launched at an EU conference in Brussels today.

The new EU Gender Equality Index is a unique statistical tool, formed by combining gender indicators, according to a conceptual framework, into a single summary measure. It consists of six core domains (work, health, money, knowledge, time, power) and two satellite domains (intersecting inequalities and violence). The Index provides results on three levels: EU level (EU average), Member States level and scores in each domain and sub-domains. It measures gender equality in 2010 by showing how far (or close) each Member State is from achieving gender equality.

The full report and all Gender Equality Index results are available at: http://eige.europa.eu/content/activities/gender-equality-index

It places Ireland in ninth position, some 18 points behind the Scandinavian high flyers, but 1.2 points ahead of the EU average.  In relation to the core domains, Ireland’s performance is variable at

  • 9th on work (71 compared with EU average of 69)
  • 8th on money (77 compared with EU average of 68.9)
  • 11th on knowledge (52.8 compared with EU average of 48.9)
  • 5th on time (53.4 compared with EU average of 38.8)
  • 19th on power (26.5 compared with EU average of 38) and
  • 1st on health (96.4 compared with an EU average of 90.1)

Welcoming the new Index, Minister Lynch pointed out that

"The benefit of publishing statistics is that they highlight issues and foster evidence based policy making.  So we in Ireland will use the Gender Index, in all its complexities, to create awareness of the deficits and gaps that need to be bridged before we achieve real gender equality for our women."

She also used the opportunity to brief President Van Rompuy on the gender equality programme delivered during the Irish Presidency of the Council of Ministers.  This programme, which included a major international conference, a workshop for Ministers and a policy debate at the formal Council of Employment, Social Protection and Equality Ministers, focused largely on the labour market participation of women and the contribution which an increase in women’s employment rates could make to the achievement of economic growth in Europe.  Minister Lynch pointed out that

"While some may cite the high levels of unemployment across many Member States at present, particularly for young people, we know from the EU economic policy agenda that there are still many opportunities in the green economy, in the white economy and in ICT. These high-growth sectors all afford opportunities to women to educate and retrain if necessary for new careers which will benefit both their personal circumstances and economic growth in Europe."

Concluding her address, Minister Lynch invited President Van Rompuy to maintain a focus on gender equality at EU level.  She specifically suggested to him that he

"continue to deliver to European leaders the message that the attainment of "de facto" gender equality is a "win – win" situation for Europe, its citizens and the economy.   It offers an economic "win" for Europe and each of its Member States and a personal "win" for each of its female citizens in the form of greater economic independence for women and their families, particularly to avoid poverty."

In a further intervention, the Equality Minister acknowledged that Ireland performs poorly on decision-making but pointed to the limited range of statistics in relation to decision-making.  She noted that while women are under-represented on corporate boards – a measure in the Index – they occupy over a third of all positions on State Boards – which is not a composite statistic within the Index.

Minister Lynch’s EIGE speech:


Brussels, 8 May 2013

European Commission report on Progress on equality between women and men in 2012.

The European Commission annual report on Progress on equality between women and men, prepared by Unit D2-Gender Equality, DG Justice, has just been released.

Based on recent evidence and new data, it takes stock of major policy developments during the last year. The report illustrates some of the many ways in which the European Union and its Member States have promoted gender equality.

More...Overview of European Commission report on Progress on equality between women and men in 2012

The report is available here: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/gender-equality/files/swd_2013_171_en.pdf



Major EU Presidency Conference 29 - 30 April 2013 Dublin

EU Conference hears that Gender Equality in Workforce is Central to  EU’s targets for Economic Growth

Member States must address barriers which limit opportunities both for women and economic growth 




Gender Equality Minister Kathleen Lynch T.D. hosted an EU Presidency conference entitled ‘Women’s Economic Engagement and the Europe 2020 Agenda’ in Dublin Castle on Monday 29th and Tuesday 30th April.


 Conference on Employment Ministers

Mr. Richard Bruton, T.D., Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation; Gender Equality Minister Ms. Kathleen Lynch T.D; Mr. Alan Shatter, T.D. Minister for Justice and Equality; Mrs. Algimanta Pabedinskienė, Lithuanian Minister of Social Security and Labour; Mr. Mikael Gustafsson, MEP Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM)

This European Commission supported event, which was the flagship event for Gender Equality in this, our seventh Presidency, brought together over 200 expert people from across Europe – policy-makers, government officials, business leaders, entrepreneurs, employment and equality experts  to look at steps which can be taken to increase economic growth across Europe by encouraging women to remain in or to return to the labour market.

In his opening address to the Conference, Mr. Alan Shatter, T.D. Minister for Justice and Equality, referred to the "win-win situation" which could be achieved by women having not just jobs but "better jobs".  He noted that furthering the economic engagement of women has a strong positive effect on boosting economic growth, while at the same time strengthening women’s economic independence.

The ICT sector was earmarked for special attention by Mr. Richard Bruton, T.D., Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. At present women comprise only 30% of the ICT workforce in Europe. This ICT sector is rapidly growing and creating around 120,000 new jobs across Europe every year. He noted that there is an urgent need to find new ways of encouraging girls to take up careers in ICT and to show them the opportunities on offer.

In addressing the Conference, Minister Lynch and European Commissioner for Employment, Mr. Laszlo Andor further developed these themes. They emphasised the importance of increasing female participation in the labour market  and on the imperative to capitalise on the well educated female EU population in order to achieve the key employment goals of the Europe 2020 Strategy – the EU’s economic policy for the present decade. (Comm Andor Keynote Address )

The opening day of the Conference looked at the economic background to the topic.  It heard from the OECD which has recently published a ground breaking analysis entitled "Closing the Gender Gap" linking women’s employment, education and entrepreneurship as factors to maximise economic growth potential across the OECD area, including in the European Union.

The conference also looked at the challenges to women’s full engagement.

Dr. Willem Adema of the OECD commented that women are disadvantaged by the unequal responsibilities of unpaid care work which limits and in some instances prevents their employment and entrepreneurial activities.  He advocated that "countries should promote a more gender equitable use of flexible working time arrangements and parental leave entitlements among fathers and mothers to generate a better sharing of paid and unpaid work."

Dr. Daniela Bankier, Head of Gender Equality in the European Commission noted that equality between men and women is a fundamental right and a common principle of the European Union and a key element of sustainable, smart and inclusive economic growth.  She emphasised that "Women represent a growing share of the EU workforce. Significant challenges remain in fields such as reconciling work and family life and gender balance in decision-making. Women must be given the opportunity to fully participate in the labour market and to develop their full potential."

Her Commission colleague from DG Employment, Ms. Wallis Goelen outlined some of the economic disincentives, both national and personal, pointing out that economic inactivity for women can be linked to an increase in effective tax rates when moving from inactivity to employment or when the wage increases, the participation of women in the labour market may be discouraged.  Childcare costs can be a further disincentive to start or return to work for a second earner.  The EU institutions are recommending that Member States tackle these disincentives, to ensure that the contribution of the well educated female population of the EU can maximise its personal economic independence and its potential contribution to economic growth across the Union.

 Conference on Employment

Mr. Aongus Hegarty President, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Dell; Mr. Alan Shatter, T.D. Minister for Justice and Equality; Mr. Willem Adema OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour & Social Affairs; Gender Equality Minister Ms. Kathleen Lynch T.D; Mrs. Algimanta Pabedinskienė, Lithuanian Minister of Social Security and Labour; Mr. Mikael Gustafsson, MEP Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM); Dr. Daniela Bankier Head of Gender Equality in the European Commission.

Read more...Women’s Economic Engagement and the Europe 2020 Agenda 

Conference Programme

Concept Note

Conference Presentations

Signed Trio Declaration

Photo Gallery

25 April 2013

Major EU Presidency Conference on Women's Economic Engagement, April 29th - 30th 2013, Dublin Castle.

Minister of State Kathleen Lynch announces major EU Presidency Conference on Women's Economic Engagement and the Europe 2020 Agenda - 'The Printworks', Dublin Castle, April 29th - 30th 2013.

Minister of State Kathleen Lynch T.D. today announced the holding of a major International Conference on Women's Economic Engagement and the Europe 2020 Agenda' as part of Ireland's EU Presidency Programme on Gender Equality. The Conference which is being grant aided under the EU's Progress Programme 2007 - 2013 will take place in the Print Works Conference Centre, Dublin Castle, on 29th and 30th April.

EU Conference Programme

EU Conference Concept Note

Conference Presentations

Europe 2020 Agenda

Press and Media

8 March 2013

International Women’s Day Focus on Violence against Women at key UN Gender meeting

Minister of State Kathleen Lynch exchanges views with women from across the globe and attends launch of UN Women’s new global song "One Woman"
International Women’s Day, New York, 8 March 2013.

Minister of State Kathleen Lynch TD continues her participation at the 57th meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) with a range of events taking place to mark International Women’s Day, the global celebration which is now over 100 years old.

She expects to have an opportunity to engage with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon at a lunch for Women Ambassadors to mark the Day.  The lunch,  being hosted by the Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations, during which discussion will again focus on the key topic for this year’s meeting of CSW - violence against women - and the work being done globally by UN Women and UN  countries to address this criminal behaviour.

Yesterday, in her tight schedule, Minister Lynch joined Michelle Bachelet, the UN Deputy Secretary General and Director of UN Women at a seminar event, organised by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts which focused on preparing young people to deter and address violence.  The Minister spoke of the plans to strengthen the Irish school curriculum in relationships education to deter violence.

Later in the day, she took part in a particularly well received seminar event sponsored by Irish Aid at which she endorsed the fact that violence against women is a global challenge, affecting a third of all women.  Speaking of the Irish context she pointed out that

In 2011, the Women’s Aid telephone helpline received almost 13,000 calls to report incidents of domestic violence.  Almost one quarter of the perpetrators of sexual violence against women in Ireland is intimate partners or ex-partners.  Clearly there is no place for complacency on this issue in Ireland or in any country in the world.

She also met with a small group of Irish based NGOs who are attending this meeting of CSW and discussed the good practices they had identified through their participation in the wide range of activities which form part of this marathon event for women worldwide.

On a lighter side, the Minister was delighted to attend the launch of the new UN Women song "One Woman" which was launched to profile the excellent work of the UN’s key institution which works to advance gender equality in all corners of the globe.

Minister Lynch expressed the hope that the women of Ireland would download the song, in order to make it a best seller while also supporting the excellent work of UN Women.  It can be downloaded at http://song.unwomen.org

UN Women Director and former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet pointed out that

"One Woman" gives us a message of hope and inspiration.  This song carries a message of unity and solidarity with women world wide and reminds us that equality, human rights and human dignity are the birthright of all of us, every human being.

7 February 2013

Statement by the Minister of State for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People, Ms. Kathleen Lynch T.D., on the occasion of the Informal Council of EPSCO Ministers held in Dublin on 7th and 8th February 2013

Working women can help both themselves and the economy

EU Ministers, in Dublin today, debate the contribution and benefits older women can make as they remain in the labour market

Minister of State for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older Women Ms. Kathleen Lynch T.D. today chaired a lively debate of EU Labour and Social Protection Ministers at a workshop in Dublin on the topic of "Older Women and Europe’s Labour Market – Working Together for the Needs of All."
The workshop formed part of the Programme for the Informal meeting of EPSCO Ministers who gathered in Dublin to discuss a range of topical issues.  Minister Lynch introduced the topic and pointed out that, "the economic engagement of older women enables them to ensure that they live outside the poverty trap which is so often experienced by older women, while, at the same time, they can use their talents to contribute to the economic growth and well-being which is so necessary for Europe in the current challenging times".

Much of the focus of European economic policy is the expansion of our labour market to ensure that Europe remains competitive.  Europe 2020, the Union’s economic strategy for the remainder of this decade aims to achieve an employment rate of 75 per cent for men and women by 2020.   At present, the figure is only just above 68 per cent.  Mr. Aurel Ciobanu-Dordea, the Commission’s Director for Equality, noted that "there is a strong case for supporting the economic engagement of women in order to attain the Europe 2020 goals. In many Member States, the highest potential to increase employment rates lies with older workers and mostly with older women. Beyond employment, women aged 50 to 65 should also be in focus of pension and active ageing policies, to ensure that they remain in employment more".

Commission Director General for Employment, Mr. Koos Richelle presented a statistical analysis of the situation and noted that "according to latest data (2012Q3), senior females (age 50-64) had a 56% activity rate compared to a 71.6% rate for males in the same age group" despite the fact that they tend to be better educated and to participate more frequently in life long learning.

Minister of State Lynch pointed out that the statistics suggest that, "there were 14 million men in this age group who were economically inactive, but there were over 22.6 million women aged 50 to 64 years, who were neither at work nor unemployed from a labour market perspective".   This is a significant gap of some 8 million fewer women than men who are building up their life time earnings and pension entitlements.
Although the focus of Europe 2020 is on economic growth, labour market engagement also enables people, men and women, to increase their pension entitlements.  Minister Lynch quoted EU wide figures which show that, after social transfers (such as state pensions) older women were at much higher risk (at 18.1 per cent) than older men (at 12.9 per cent) of being at risk of poverty.  Extending working life can be expected to increase pension entitlements, reducing the risk of poverty.    Accordingly, the return or retention of older women in the labour market helps both the economy and the lifetime prosperity of the woman – a "win, win" situation.

Minister Lynch's address on the topic of, "Older Women and Europe’s Labour Market – Working Together for the Needs of All," can be viewed in full here: http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/SP13000056