Equality will be put at the heart of policy making – Ministers Donohoe, McGrath & O’Gorman

9th March, 2021

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD, the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderick O’Gorman TD and the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe TD – have today (Tuesday), updated Government on the Equality Budgeting initiative and have received Government agreement to mainstream the approach to equality budgeting and build on the progress to date in this area.

Equality budgeting was introduced by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) in 2017 to highlight how certain areas of expenditure are intended to promote equality policies and outcomes. Built upon the existing ‘performance budgeting’ framework, which links expenditure to intended outputs and impacts, equality budgeting was initially piloted on a limited number of areas, with gender as a primary axis of equality. Six departments were involved in the pilot but that has increased to twelve departments now reporting to DPER on equality metrics as part of the Revised Estimates.

In 2018, an Equality Budgeting Expert Advisory Group was established, with significant independent membership, to oversee and guide the development of equality budgeting.
In 2019, taking account of the feedback from the Equality Budgeting Expert Advisory Group, the OECD was commissioned by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the (then) Department of Justice and Equality to conduct a review of Ireland’s approach to equality budgeting. This work was undertaken to both accelerate the uptake and impact of the initiative, and to take account of developments in international good practice.

Since publication of the OECD Policy Scan of Equality Budgeting in Ireland, there have been further developments in this area with the completion of an Equality Data audit, conducted by the CSO and published on their website and with work underway to progress the Programme for Government commitment regarding the introduction of a Wellbeing Framework. This work will build upon progress to date on performance budgeting and will integrate and support the equality budgeting agenda.

Speaking today, Minister McGrath said:

“The past year has highlighted the importance of measuring the progress of society in ways that go beyond traditional metrics like GDP. If we are going to tackle the inequalities experienced by marginalised groups, we need to measure it and actively pursue policies to change that reality. Today’s agreement from Government shows our commitment to progress this very important work, right across all areas of government, to ensure that public funds are spent in a targeted way to ensure they deliver the right impacts. Equality must be at the heart of policy making decisions to improve opportunities for women in the workforce and to improve access to educational opportunities for low income households”.

Minister O’Gorman said:

“As decision-makers, it is important that we continuously ask ourselves how our budgetary decisions can achieve equality, and where necessary, what improvements need to be made to ensure we are making positive advances towards equality. The inclusion of equality budgeting measures will be a key tool for Government. Their systematic use will help to ensure that equality is the core of our resilience and recovery planning”

Minister Donohoe said:

“Today’s agreement by Government to mainstream the Equality Budgeting builds on our efforts to date, and clearly defines a whole-of-Government approach to make further progress in this important area, in line with our Programme for Government commitment. Equality Budgeting involves providing greater information on the likely impacts of budgetary measures, which, in turn, facilitates the achievement of improved equality outcomes”. 

Next Steps:

Government has agreed to establish an inter-departmental network to fully implement equality budgeting in line with recommendations contained in the OECD review. This inter-departmental group of senior officials will be chaired jointly by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and will meet quarterly.

The network will work to:

  • Improve knowledge sharing across departments,
  • Facilitate cross-government training on the purpose and application of equality budgeting
  • Inform the future direction of equality budgeting policy in line with broader cross-governmental developments, including the Wellbeing framework.”




Notes for Editors

Appendix I – List of current Equality Budgeting Metrics


Pilot Phase 1 metrics:

  • Support Female Participation in the Labour Force (D/CEDIY) – to support women’s participation in the labour force by promoting accessible and affordable childcare
  • Arts Culture and Film (D/CHG) – to increase funding for female talent in Irish film
  • Sports Grants (D/TTS) – to achieve greater participation of women in sporting activities
  • Apprenticeships (D/ES) – to increase female participation in Apprenticeships increased awareness of incentives to employers to employ female apprentices and the expansion of the apprenticeship system into new sectors of the economy.
  • Research Grants (D/BEI) – Increase female representation among Science Foundation Ireland award holders to 30% by 2020 and promote STEM careers for women (SFI Gender Strategy 2016-2020)
  • Smoking (D/Health) – ensuring that funding to reduce smoking impacts people of different genders and socioeconomic backgrounds equally.

Phase 2 metrics:

  • Support for female entrepreneurs (D/BEI) – to launch and grow High Potential Start-Ups, and to address the key challenges facing women in start-ups
  • Energy Poverty (D/CCAE) – The Warmer Homes scheme provides free energy efficiency upgrades to homes in receipt of specific DEASP payments. The Warmth & Wellbeing Pilot scheme was created to focus on the delivery of energy efficiency imporvements to those with actue health problems.
  • Reduce the number of jobless household (D/EASP) – Promote active inclusion and reduce the proportion of jobless households in society by providing targeted activation and development and employment services
  • Equality of Opportunity for Parental care (D/EASP) – Increase the take-up level of Paternity Benefit among eligible employees and self-employed people.
  • Gender Balance in third level education (DES) – To accelerate gender balance across all Higher Education; set short, medium and long term goals and actions at the institutional level (main one 45 new posts for female senior academic posts)
  • Access to Education (DES) – Ensure that the student population in Higher Education reflects the diversity and social mix of Ireland’s population (main metric increasing students with a disability as a % of new entrants)
  • Female Economic Independence (DCEDIY) – Increase female participation in the labour market, decrease their risk of poverty in older years, associated with detachment from the labour market; and to meet EU 2020 female employment and entrepreneurship targets.

Phase 3 metrics

  • Senior female roles (D/FA) – Increase % of women in senior roles in the Department.
  • Promote International Gender Equality (D/FA) – Promote Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls through Overseas Aid.
  • Prisoner Education (D/J) – To increse the participation and completion levels of women in prison education programmes in Dóchas Centre in order to build skills and knowledge for personal development, future engagement in the labour market and reduce recidivism.
  • Housing (D/HLGH) – To provide for a stable and sustainable supply of good quality housing.
  • Farming (D/AFM) – Keep the rural economy alive by promoting jobs in farming, agri-foods industries and associated sectors

Appendix II – Membership of the Equality Budgeting Expert Advisory Group


  • Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Chair)
  • Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
  • Department of Finance
  • Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
  • Central Statistics Office
  • Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission
  • National Economic and Social Council
  • National Disability Authority
  • National Women’s Council of Ireland
  • Economic and Social Research Institute
  • Maynooth University