Written Answers. - Programmes Affecting Women.

85.

asked the Minister for Labour the specific programmes affecting women, either at work, on the farm, in the social welfare system or at home which will form part of the Government's programme of preparation for 1992 and the implementation of the Single European Act; and the financial input to these programmes which is envisaged both from the Irish Exchequer and from EC funds.

The major programmes affecting women at work and on the farm are in large measure those which will also affect men. Combating unemployment will be the major objective of Government policy in relation to the completion of the internal market. Of considerable importance in this connection will be programmes designed to meet skill and technological requirements.

We will continue to promote the participation of women at all levels in the labour force particularly in growth areas and sectors of the economy and to promote access by women by women to courses and programmes in which female participation is traditionally low.

In relation to positive measures in favour of women and the improvement of the mechanisms designed to eliminate gender discrimination at work, the development of our policy and programmes between now and 1992 will be influenced by considerations of both natural and Community origin. I have already indicated that I will amend the law to make the appeals machinery more effective. Among the main Community considerations which will impact on the size and nature of Government programmes will be the Commission assessment on the 1986-1990 programme for equality of opportunity for women following which proposals will be drafted for future action. Other proposals in the pipeline include an examination of Community rules generally on equal treatment, a proposed Directive on the burden of proof and the preparation of a code of conduct regarding pregnancy and maternity.

There are no implications for the Irish social welfare system, either generally or as it applies to women, arising out of the Government's programme of preparation for 1992 and implementation of the Single European Act. The EC has, however, adopted a number of Directives in recent years which have implications for Irish social welfare, particularly as it relates to women. The terms of these Directives have been or are in the process of being provided for in legislation by this country.

It is not possible at this stage to isolate the exact financial inputs involved.