The ongoing work regarding Equality Budgeting in Ireland follows the Programme for a Partnership Government commitment to ‘develop the process of budget and policy proofing as a means of advancing equality, reducing poverty and strengthening economic and social rights’. The Programme also includes a commitment to ‘ensure the institutional arrangements are in place to support equality and gender proofing within key government departments’. The National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020 contains a further commitment to ‘take measures to build capacity within the Civil and Public Service with regard to gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting’.
A pilot initiative for Equality Budgeting was announced in Budget 2018 and as I announced in my Budget 2019 speech I am expanding Equality Budgeting to further develop the gender budgeting elements, and to broaden its scope to other dimensions of equality including poverty, socioeconomic inequality and disability. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is committed to working with other Departments and Agencies, and with experts and advocacy groups, in order to advance the Equality Budgeting initiative.
Against this background, an Equality Budgeting Expert Advisory Group has now been established to assist in the further development and roll-out of Equality Budgeting in Ireland. The more specific role and objectives of the Group are:
- to provide constructive, critical feedback on the Equality Budgeting initiative to date;
- to provide expert guidance and informed insights on the future direction and areas of focus for Equality Budgeting, including in light of international experience, lessons from other policy areas and from academia;
- to promote a coherent, cross-government approach to Equality Budgeting, to maximise equality impacts and avoid duplication of effort across various policy areas; and
- to identify existing strengths of the Irish policy-making system which can be leveraged in support of Equality Budgeting, along with potential shortcomings that need to be addressed in this regard.
The Expert Group will meet approximately every two to three months. Officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform will act as secretariat to the Group. Topics which the Expert Group wish to be examined will be discussed with the secretariat and arrangements will be made for appropriate departments and agencies to attend meetings.
The Group, which is chaired by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, includes representation from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the Department of Finance and the Department of Justice and Equality. In addition to the representatives from these Government Departments, the Group includes: Helen Johnston, National Economic and Social Council; Jennifer McCarthy Flynn, National Women's Council of Ireland; Helen Russell, the Economic and Social Research Institute; Seamus Taylor, Maynooth University; and representatives from the Central Statistics Office and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.