In pursuit of the goal of full employment the European Council has set employment targets under the Lisbon agenda. These include a female employment rate of 57% by 2005 and 60% by 2010.
One of the main challenges in the area of employment is to increase the overall numbers of those at work, including women. The employment rate for women in Ireland has increased by 15% since 1994 and now stands at 56%. The EU average employment rate for women is 55.6%. The number of women in employment in Ireland is 764,100 of which 528,200, 69.1%, are in full time employment and 236,000, 30.9%, are in part-time employment. This gives a participation rate for women of 49.7%.
Measures are being implemented to encourage greater levels of female participation in the workforce including tax incentives, child income support, a greater commitment to flexible, family friendly working arrangements as well as child care provisions. It is expected that these measures will help to ensure greater female participation and enable the EU employment rate of 60% to be achieved by 2010.