The Department of Justice and Equality (RoI) launched a public consultation on the new National Women's Strategy on 23 November 2016 seeking public views on priorities to be included in the new National Women’s Strategy and proposals for actions and targets.
The new National Women’s Strategy 2017-2020 seeks to change attitudes and practices preventing women’s and girls’ full participation in education, employment and public life, at all levels, and to improve services for women and girls, with priority given to the needs of those experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, the poorest outcomes.
Key Points from IPH response
- IPH welcomes the opportunity to submit our views to the development of a new National Women’s Strategy in the context of the interface between women’s equality, population health and health inequalities. Positive physical and mental health supports girls and women to participate fully in opportunities within social, cultural and economic life and gender-based inequalities in access to social and economic opportunity can threaten the health of women and their families.
- IPH recognises the positive impacts on population health that can accrue from realising the women’s equality promises set out in the Programme for Partnership Government. However, we could caution that the stated women’s equality actions focus solely on health services. Action on social determinants of health and the root causes of health inequality among girls and women is also required.
- The consultation states that it is not intended that the Strategy would replicate actions already included in other strategies and action plans. The aim is that the new strategy would reflect current priority needs and enhance work already being done on a sectoral or thematic basis. However, it is not clear how such integration will occur in respect of the health agenda, particularly in light of the lack of any comprehensive national strategy on women’s health.
- IPH would welcome recognition and defined actions within the new strategy that recognise the synergies between the rights of women and the rights of children as set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of Children (United Nations, 1990). In particular, IPH would welcome action on further empowering Irish women to feel confident and supported to breastfeed.
- IPH is concerned at the short duration of the strategy (2017 – 2020) in terms of what can realistically be achieved within such a short period. We recommend that the final strategy include specific measurable and time-bound objectives embedded within a clear action plan. The final strategy would benefit from a clear monitoring and accountability mechanism for the action areas.
- We recommend that the final strategy should better reflect issues relating to population ageing within the women’s equality agenda. In particular the interface on issues of income inequality, ill-health and disability and elder abuse should be addressed. We recommend that some age-proofing of the draft national women’s strategy should be undertaken.