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The first meeting of the Citizens' Assembly on gender equality is happening today

It will be the fifth assembly to convene since its establishment back in July 2016.

Image: Shutterstock/StunningArt

THE CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLY on gender equality will meet today for the first in a series of discussions around the issue of gender in Irish society.

It will be the fifth such assembly to convene since the project’s establishment back in July 2016, with previous assemblies taking place on issues including climate change, managing an ageing population, and abortion. 

The assembly consists of 99 members of the public from across a variety of demographics, including age, location and gender – each tasked with reviewing and analysing the issues before recommendations are made.

A number of experts and professionals from a variety of disciplines, including health and childcare, will present to the assembly in the weeks to come with a view to it then publishing a report in six months’ time. 

TDs from across the political spectrum will then review the recommendations, and the Government can decide on whether to act on them. 

Issues around gender have risen to the top of the political debate in recent years with data showing women are, on average, paid less than men, face issues when trying to access healthcare, and are less likely to be promoted than men. 

Of the 531 candidates registered to contest the upcoming general election, just 162 are women, although this represents a slight increase on the 2016 election. 

Meanwhile, on 10 January, two Cork students were awarded the BT Young Scientist Award for their project examining how gender stereotypes become apparent in children as young as five years old. 

Last summer, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that women and men are far from equal. “We fall very far short of that and the current pace of change and the current rate of progress is too slow,” he said.

Varadkar said at the current rate, it could take many generations before women and men in Ireland are “truly equal”.

Former secretary general of the European Commission Catherine Day will chair the assembly over the coming months. 

Day, who will open the assembly with an address to members today, sits on the board of the Institute of International and European Affairs along with the European Movement Ireland. 

Today is the first in a series of weekend meetings with the next one falling between 14 – 16 February. 

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Once the citizens’ assembly is complete, an all-party committee will consider its recommendations and report them to the government. 

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