We have a number of apologies from colleagues, which are noted. Before we begin, it should be noted that members have the option of being physically present in the committee room, as we all are, or they may join the meeting via Microsoft Teams from Leinster House offices but they may not participate in the meeting from outside the parliamentary precincts. If joining on Microsoft Teams, those attending should mute their microphones when not making a contribution. We encourage everyone to take measures to limit the risk of spreading Covid-19.
Today's meeting will be in two sessions. For the first session, we have an engagement in public with representatives from the National Women's Council of Ireland, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, the Children's Rights Alliance and One Family to discuss the recommendations of the Citizens' Assembly on Gender Equality regarding the Constitution. When the public session has concluded, we will go into private session to deal with committee business. I extend a really warm welcome to the stakeholders today. This is very exciting for us because it is only our second public hearing as a new committee. It is the first public hearing at which we have a number of different individuals because last week we just had Dr. Catherine Day to address our preliminary or first public hearing. She came in as the chairperson of the Citizens' Assembly on Gender Equality.
Before I invite the witnesses to give opening statements, I should say this committee is a special time-limited Oireachtas committee set up to progress the implementation of the recommendations of the Citizens' Assembly on Gender Equality, our manual or blueprint of 45 recommendations setting out a clear pathway to gender equality in Ireland. Our committee has taken a very practical approach. We do not want to reopen the substantive policy matters because the citizens' assembly has done so much work and engaged with the stakeholders present and other experts. We are looking at how to implement the recommendations. We have done a great deal of work already in private hearings before commencing public hearings last Thursday. We have nine months from last Thursday, which is 3 December, to produce a report or, essentially, an action plan for the Government on what must be done to progress the recommendations.
Today's engagement is about the first three recommendations because we are dealing with recommendations in a modular fashion. The first three relate to constitutional change. We are all very keen to see a referendum arising as a result of our work and that of the citizens' assembly. We want to see the referendum taking place in 2023 because so much deliberation has gone on relating to the proposed referendum on the sexist language in the Constitution. That is what we have invited the witnesses to address us on. We are very grateful to them for providing the very focused opening statements and submissions that have been made in response to our request. We are very grateful to them for coming into us in person. I invite the witnesses to give a short opening statement in the order in which we received the submissions. We will start with Ms Orla O'Connor, director of the National Women's Council. We are also joined by Ms Jennifer McCarthy Flynn, head of policy at the National Women's Council. They are both very welcome.
We will then go to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and I welcome Ms Sinéad Gibney, the chief commissioner, Dr. Salome Mbugua, member of the commission, and Professor Caroline Fennell, member of the commission. We will then go to the third non-governmental organisation before us today, the Children's Rights Alliance, and invite Ms Saoirse Brady, head of legal policy and public affairs, and Ms Julie Ahern, legal and policy manager, to speak to us. Finally, we will go to One Family and we welcome Ms Karen Kiernan, its chief executive officer.
Before we begin, I draw our guests' attention to an important notice on parliamentary privilege. Witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to the committee. However, if they are directed by the committee to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and they continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to a qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and they are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.
I will call on each group to make an opening statement before opening the floor to members for questions and answers. I welcome our members, Deputies Niamh Smyth and Réada Cronin and Senator Alice-Mary Higgins. Other members may join us as the session progresses. I thank our guests again for coming in. I call Ms Orla O'Connor to make her opening statement on behalf of the National Women's Council.