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[email protected]: Ireland’s successful experience with a Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality

At the initiative of Fiona O'Loughlin, Chairperson of the Irish delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly, women members of the Standing Committee representing the newly established [email protected] group, held an informal joint meeting in Dublin with the Irish Women’s Parliamentary Caucus and heard about Ireland’s successful experience with a Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality.

Catherine Day, a former Secretary General of the European Commission who chaired the Citizens’ Assembly, presented the concept – a group of 100 citizens, half women and half men, randomly selected but broadly reflecting Irish society, and tasked with making recommendations to the Irish Parliament on how to advance gender equality.

The Assembly, the third such citizen body in Ireland, presented its 45 recommendations to the Oireachtas, the Irish Parliament, in June 2021. Among the proposals were changes to the Constitution, quotas in politics and business, improvements in the areas of care-giving and family life, and measures to combat domestic violence.

“Assembly members felt that change was coming, but it was too slow,” said Catherine Day. “The Assembly gave a focus to this issue, and a voice to so-called ordinary people, who clearly showed they are ahead of their public representatives in this area.”

She added: “It was a great experience, and I’m optimistic that almost everything the panel has recommended will be taken up.”