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Current News and Events
July 24 2014
Government approves new measures to promote gender balance on State Boards
Minister of State with responsibility for Equality, New Communities and Culture Mr. Aodhán Ó Ríordáin T.D., has received the approval of the Government to take new measures to promote gender equality on State Boards.
A target of achieving a minimum of 40 per cent representation of both women and men on all State Boards was set originally in 1993. At 36.2 per cent overall, the 2013 data for female representation on State Boards show a very positive step forward over previous years which had been averaged at 34 per cent. However, a number of Departments fall below this average and there remains significant under-representation of both sexes on certain Boards.
The Government has therefore approved new measures to promote gender balance on State Boards, reaffirming its commitment to achieve the target of 40 per cent representation of each gender on all State Boards within the lifetime of the current Programme for Government.
Minister of State Ó Ríordáin welcomed progress reflected in the 2013 figures and the arrangements now being put in place commenting that
“Meeting the 40% target by 2016 is a specific commitment of this Government and we are now requiring each Government Department to plan how it intends to achieve this. These new measures will be accompanied by closer monitoring, with each Government Department to report on a six-monthly basis on their progress”.
Addressing the under-representation of women on State Boards, Minister Ó Ríordáin highlighted a new initiative to be developed in the Department of Justice and Equality to assist in the sourcing of suitably qualified female candidates for appointment to State Boards. Minister Ó Ríordáin said
“I am very pleased to announce that the Department will undertake a pilot project to develop a talent bank of women who would be prepared to serve on State Boards, as a resource to be made available to Ministers and other nominating bodies in meeting this target”.
The development of such a talent bank had been included as a recommendation in two reports associated with the implementation of the National Women’s Strategy 2007-2016. The Mid-Term Review of the National Women’s Strategy and Towards Gender Parity in Decision-Making in Ireland were prepared by the Monitoring Committee of the National Women’s Strategy chaired by the Minister of State formerly with responsibility for Equality, Ms. Kathleen Lynch, T.D.
The Minister believes that the implementation of these new measures will have a positive impact on gender-balance on State Boards and looks forward to working in close co-operation with his Ministerial colleagues to achieve this Programme for Government commitment.
May 13 2014
Agencies unite to break silence on sexual violence
National helpline agencies have joined forces to break the silence on sexual violence in relationships. The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and Women’s Aid ‘Not happily ever after’ campaign, launched recently, encourages women to overcome the shame and fear associated with the crime.
The campaign highlights the crime of sexual violence within relationships, was reported by 91,000 women (6% of all women) in Ireland in a recent survey.
Women’s Aid director Margaret Martin said EU-wide research showed under-reporting of sexual violence in relationships was significant, with Irish respondents reporting low levels of help-seeking. "The extent to which women recognise that rape by an intimate partner is a crime is one factor in reporting," she said. "So we’ve launched this campaign to help women overcome the shame and fear associated with this crime, and to highlight the support that is available."
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre chief executive Ellen O’Malley Dunlop said the fairytale notion of ‘happily ever after’ was used to focus attention on sexual violence in relationships and to question the misconception that sexual violence was mainly perpetrated by strangers. "In reality, women are at risk of sexual violence from their partners, exes, or someone they know," she said. "Almost one quarter of perpetrators of sexual violence against adult women in Ireland are intimate partners or exes. Yet there has only been one marital rape conviction in nearly a quarter century since the law has been on the statute books."
Ms O’Malley Dunlop said that repeat victimisation in relationships where there was sexual violence was common. "Over half of women raped by their partner experienced more than one incident of sexual violence and one third of victims experienced six or more incidents of rape by their current partner," she said. "Despite these consequences, for a quarter of victims, feeling ashamed or embarrassed about what had happened stopped them from reporting the crime or seeking help.
"This campaign aims to challenge the culture of victim-blaming that leaves women silenced and ashamed, while violent perpetrators remain outside the criminal justice system."
The campaign will run until June 2 and includes national outdoor, radio, and digital advertising, and is funded by Cosc, the national office for the prevention of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.
* Dublin Rape Crisis Centre — 1800 778888. Women’s Aid – 1800 341900.
April 14 2014 - New European Commission Reports
Gender equality in the workforce: Reconciling work, private and family life in Europe
A newly published statistical report summarises the findings of a research project on gender equality in the workforce. A detailed analysis of the following topics are presented in 6 annexes:
• the Barcelona childcare targets (Annex I);
• labour force participation rates of men, women and parents (Annex II);
• balancing work and family for single parents (Annex III);
• gender inequalities in the transition from school to work (Annex IV);
• share of earnings and domestic work within couples (Annex V);
• and access to family-friendly working schedules (Annex VI).
The reports analyses the extent to which men and women face the work life balance challenges differently and examined their labour force participation, working hours, and contributions to household income and to domestic work. Throughout the reports improvements in gender equality are observed over recent decades, but women continue to lag behind on labour force participation and earnings, face slower transition to their first job, while contributing more to domestic tasks even if they are breadwinners. These challenges are particularly pronounced in the presence of children. Mothers have lower employment rates, shorter hours and interrupted their careers more due to childcare, compared to women without children and men (with or without children).
Report on Progress on equality between women and men in 2013
In the past year the European Commission made further progress on improving equality between women and men, including closing the gender gaps in employment, pay and pensions, combating violence and promoting equality in decision-making. Despite the progress that was achieved in most areas, challenges remain, according to the European Commission's latest annual report on gender equality.
More: European Commission
Questions & Answers: Report on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and Progress Report on Gender Equality
What are fundamental rights? The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights sets out a series of individual rights and freedoms. It entrenches the rights developed in the case law of the Court of Justice of the EU, found in the European Convention on Human Rights.
Violence against Women: every day and everywhere
European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) Vienna 5 March 2014
A new report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) presents results from the world’s biggest-ever survey on violence against women, revealing the extent of abuse suffered by women at home, work, in public and online. As well as demonstrating the wide prevalence of violence against adult women, the report also details incidents of physical and sexual violence experienced by women in childhood. The survey shows that policy makers need to recognise the extent of violence against women, and ensure that responses meet the needs and rights of all victims of violence against women in practice and not just on paper.
"These survey figures simply cannot and should not be ignored. FRA’s survey shows that physical, sexual and psychological violence against women is an extensive human rights abuse in all EU Member States," said FRA Director Morten Kjaerum. "The enormity of the problem is proof that violence against women does not just impact a few women only – it impacts on society every day. Therefore, policy makers, civil society and frontline workers need to review measures to tackle all forms of violence against women no matter where it takes place. Measures tackling violence against women need to be taken to a new level now."
The survey asked women about their experiences of physical, sexual and psychological violence, including domestic violence. Questions were also asked about incidents of stalking, sexual harassment, and the role played by new technologies in women’s experiences of abuse. In addition, the survey asked about respondents’ experiences of violence in childhood.
Drawing on the survey responses, some of the key findings show that:
- 33% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. That corresponds to 62 million women.
- 22% have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner.
- 5% of all women have been raped. Almost one in 10 women who have experienced sexual violence by a non-partner, indicate that more than one perpetrator was involved in the most serious incident.
- 43% have experienced some form of psychological violence by either a current or a previous partner, such as public humiliation; forbidding a woman to leave the house or locking her up; forcing her to watch pornography; and threats of violence.
- 33% have childhood experiences of physical or sexual violence at the hands of an adult. 12% had childhood experiences of sexual violence, of which half were from men they did not know. These forms of abuse typically involve an adult exposing their genitals or touching the child’s genitals or breasts.
- 18% of women have experienced stalking since the age of 15 and 5% in the 12 months prior to the interview. This corresponds to 9 million women. 21% of women who have experienced stalking said that it lasted for over 2 years.
- 11% of women have experienced inappropriate advances on social websites or have been subjected to sexually explicit emails or text (SMS) messages. 20% of young women (18-29) have been victims of such cyberharassment.
- 55% of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment. 32% of all victims of sexual harassment said the perpetrator was a boss, colleague or customer.
- 67% did not report the most serious incident of partner violence to the police or any other organisation.
The survey on which the report is based makes clear that a wide variety of groups need to take action to combat violence against women, including employers, health professionals and internet service providers. FRA makes a number of proposals to improve the situation and to support EU and national policy makers to introduce and implement comprehensive measures to prevent and respond to violence against women:
- EU Member States should ratify the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention).
- EU Member States must regard intimate partner violence as a public and not a private issue. The law in all EU Member States should therefore treat rape within marriage the same as other incidents of rape, and should respond to domestic violence as a matter of serious public concern.
- EU Member States need to review the existing scope of legislative and policy responses to sexual harassment, recognising that it can occur in various settings and can use different mediums, such as the internet or mobile phones.
- Police, healthcare professionals, employers and specialist victim support services need to be trained, properly resourced and given the necessary powers to reach out to victims.
- The police and other relevant services should be trained to recognise and understand the impact of psychological abuse on victims to ensure all forms of violence against women (and girls) in varied settings are recognised, recorded and acted on.
- The police should be encouraged to routinely recognise and investigate cases where cyberstalking and cyberharassment plays a role.
- Internet and social media platforms should proactively assist victims of cyberharassment to report abuse and be encouraged to limit unwanted behaviour.
- Specialist support services are required to address the needs of victims who suffer from negative feelings in the aftermath of victimisation, which can include self-blame and a sense of shame.
- Campaigns on and responses to violence against women must be directed at men as well as women. Men need to be positively engaged in initiatives that confront how some men use violence against women.
- There is a clear need to improve and harmonise data collection on violence against women, both in and between EU Member States.
Full report: Violence against women: an EU-wide survey
A Parliament of all Talents: Building a Women-friendly Oireachtas
NWCI Publication Launch Tuesday, 4 March, 2014
The National Women’s Council of Ireland were joined by Tánaiste, and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore TD, Jackie Ashley, Guardian Columnist, former TD Mary O’Rourke, and other politicians both past and present, to discuss changes that could be made to the Oireachtas to encourage more women to view politics as a viable career option.
Combating violence against women: a priority for the European Commission
Ahead of the International Women's Day, the European Commission publishes a factsheet summarizing key concrete actions aimed at eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls in the European Union.
Advancing gender equality in decision-making in media organisations: Report
European Institute of Gender Equality Vilnius - 22 January 2014
Review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in the EU Member States: Women and the Media.
The current report is the first one to deliver comparable data on the number of women in decision-making positions across major media organisations in the 27 EU Member States and Croatia. Further to this, the report identifies the extent to which these same organisations have developed gender equality policies, monitoring mechanisms and specific initiatives to support women’s career development. The report proposes the first indicators in the area of Women and the Media of the Beijing Platform for Action. We hope that these indicators will be used for regular monitoring of the media sector in the EU to strengthen gender equality.
The findings show that while women have considerably outnumbered men in university-level and practice-based journalism programmes and that the employment of women in media is increasing, the organisational culture of media remains largely masculine and women are still significantly under-represented at the decision-making level.
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.
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