Tuesday, 13 November 2001
Dáil Eireann Debate
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): I assume the Deputy is referring to the Draft National Plan for Women 2001-2005 which was launched by the Minister of State  with special responsibility for Equality, Deputy Wallace, on 16 October 2001. This publication is designed to guide and inform a consultation process leading to a national plan for the women of Ireland for the five years 2001-05. The consultation process will culminate in a public forum which is due to be held in the early part of 2002. It is hoped to submit the draft final plan to Government for approval and publication before the summer.
The draft plan has its origins in a series of United Nations conferences on women held over the last 25 years culminating in the Beijing Platform for Action and Declaration. The platform for action encouraged governments to develop implementation strategies or plans of action. The implementation of the platform for action was reviewed by the United Nations at a special session of the General Assembly in New York in 2000. I stated at that session that the Irish Government was working on the development of a national plan for women and that consultation with non-governmental organisations would be an important part of the work of developing the plan. The draft plan and consultation process now in train is an essential element towards fulfilling that commitment.
I anticipate the involvement of a large number of women's representative groups, other non-governmental organisations, the social partners and other stakeholders and women generally as well as the statutory and private sectors in the consultation process. The involvement of women and their representative groups is essential to ensure that the consultation process is comprehensive and inclusive. Women's groups can apply until 16 November 2001 to my Department for grants to facilitate them in disseminating information, holding workshops or discussion groups to assist in formulating views on the plan.
The draft plan is in three parts. Part one brings together current Government commitments to policies, strategies, programmes and measures agreed by the Government in relation to advancing the status of women in Irish society over the next five years. These commitments are outlined under the 12 critical areas of concern in the United Nations Beijing Platform for Action. Commitments listed are actual Government commitments, which are either in the course of being delivered on, or are in the planning process. Many of these commitments are contained in the Government Action Programme for the Millennium, the national development plan, and the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness.
Part two of the draft plan addresses how progress on the advancement of women could be measured in the 12 critical areas of concern. A list of possible gender sensitive indicators is outlined. The development of indicators is an essential element in measuring the success of any programme. The consultation process will have a very important role in agreeing appropriate and relevant indicators. Part two also contains some statistics in relation to women in Ireland.
 Part three will be used to provide a vision of the aspirations of women in relation to the 12 critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action. This vision will be articulated through the consultation process on the plan and we welcome the views of all Irish women during the consultation process which closes on 25 January 2002.
A steering committee, chaired by my Department and including representatives from Government Departments and agencies, the social partners and women's representative groups is in place to oversee the consultation process leading to the preparation of the final plan.
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