Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Gender Equality

Photo of Holly CairnsHolly Cairns (Cork South West, Social Democrats)
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475. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he is taking to identify and address gender pay disparity in his Department and public bodies and agencies that operate under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17351/22]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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My Department's current Statement of Strategy 2021-2024 sets out as one of our core values "A strong commitment to diversity, inclusion and the fair and equal treatment of all."

These core values are important for our own employees, for the clients and stakeholders of the Department who avail of our wide range of services and for our sector as a whole.

I am committed to promoting and maintaining an inclusive and diverse workplace for all its employees and the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion policy launched in 2018 reinforces our core values in these areas.

There has been a strong focus on gender balance initiatives in my Department since 2011, with a gender balance steering group in place since then. This group works closely with all areas of my Department in driving gender balance, through focus on career opportunities and participation in promotion competitions for all staff, supporting staff with caring responsibilities and work-life balance initiatives.

My Department monitors its gender pay gap and has seen a narrowing of this pay gap from 20.5% in 2013 to 11.9% in 2021.

My Department and its agencies regularly encourage their staff to participate in Women in Agricultureand Women in STEM events. In addition, I am committed to achieving the Government target of 40% gender balance on the Boards of our 12 State Bodies.

The recently published agri-food strategy, Food Vision 2030, recognises the importance of gender balance to the long-term sustainable future for primary producers and includes actions to promote and improve gender balance at all levels, including at senior management and board level, as well as capturing and publishing gender data on policy implementation e.g. participation by women in schemes and measures. It also includes a commitment to hold a National Dialogue on Women in Agriculture.

I am proud to have put forward the following package of measures on gender equality in the CAP Strategic Plan were proposed by Ireland:

- Increased rate of grant aid to 60% for women aged 41-66 years under TAMS Investments

- Knowledge Transfer Programme - Women only KT Groups

- European Innovation Partnerships – potential for a call for proposals to incentivise women’s participation in agriculture.

- Improved recording, collection and reporting on Gender data across all CAP schemes.

All CAP interventions will be developed with a gender aware perspective to ensure there are no inherent barriers to women’s participation. The National CAP Network established in the CAP Strategic Plan will be leveraged to increase the involvement of all women in the implementation of CAP. This will include events and support for women and a women’s sub-committee to lead such activities.

The ACORNS programme is funded under the Rural Innovation and Development Fund through my Department. Its objective is to encourage a stronger level of enterprise development in rural areas by seeking out and assisting start-up female entrepreneurs living in rural areas to grow and develop their businesses.

My Department is a core member of the Agri-food Diversity and Inclusion Forum (AgDif), led by Bord Bia and Aon, in partnership with the 30% Club. Since 2017, the Agri-Food Diversity & Inclusion Forum has been a collaborative initiative with the Irish Agri-food industry, aiming to position our food and drink sector as the industry of choice for the best talent.

My Department was the subject of an ESRI report on "Flexible Working and Gender Balance: A case studyof an Irish Civil Service Department."The report, which was published in late 2020 reviewed the outcome of a Gender Balance Committee Survey on Gender Balance and Flexible working arrangements in my Department. The report contained a number of recommendations around equality and gender balance and the monitoring and implementation of these recommendations is currently underway in my Department .


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