51 4.5 Gender budgeting research pilot project, Ireland – by Sheila Quinn This paper presents a brief overview of the gender budgeting research pilot project commissioned by the NDP Gender Equality Unit of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform in Ireland in 2003. The project represents the first, and to date, only funded gender budget exercise in Ireland. While the research involved three regionally-based state issues, this paper will concentrate on the findings and recommendations related to just one of those agencies, the Roscommon County En- terprise Board (CEB)25. The remit of the CEB is to promote micro-enterprises through the provision of cash grants and programmes to support entrepreneurial and capability development. As background, the paper discusses the development of gender equality policy and infrastructure in Ireland, to place gender budgeting as the most current tool of those available within the overall stra- tegy of gender mainstreaming. Gender Equality in Ireland Gender equality legislation in Ireland originated with membership of the EU in 1973. Up until that time gender equality and equal opportunities had not been addressed within the Irish legal frame- work. In more recent years the legislative and institutional framework for equality in Ireland has un- dergone fundamental change. New equality legislation (Employment Equality Act, 1998; Equal Status Act, 2000) extended anti-discrimination law from employment to service provision and broadened the protection against discrimination to nine grounds, from gender and marital status to include age, disability, race, sexual orientation, religion and membership of the Traveller commu- nity. These developments have been the result of national political initiatives rather than a response to the requirements of EU law, and have been recently updated and extended by the Equality Act 2004, which broadens the scope of claims based on unequal treatment in the workplace and else- where across the nine grounds. Together with these legislative changes, a stronger and broader equality infrastructure has been put in place including a new Equality Authority and NDP Gender Equality Units in the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform and the Department of Educa- tion and Science. Gender Mainstreaming Traditionally gender equality policy in Ireland has been implemented through the adoption of spe- cific positive action initiatives aimed at addressing particular gender inequalities. While these have been significant, their impact has been limited to support for certain programmes and projects. Re- sources have also been limited and project support often short-term, consequently having little im- pact on broader policies and patterns of expenditure. More recently, due largely to developments within the EU, a new emphasis has been placed on 'gender mainstreaming'. The EU focus on gen- der mainstreaming is reflected in guidelines in relation to current Structural Fund expenditure, which plays an important role both in funding and in influencing the framework of Irish economic and so- cial policy. Over the last five years a number of significant developments have taken place in Ireland resulting in a greater emphasis on gender mainstreaming across the policy-making process. Up until 1999, gender equality statements were required in relation to policy initiatives and proposals coming be- fore Cabinet. In the absence of any agreed framework for carrying out gender impact assessment or of common criteria or stages in the assessment process, it has tended to be highly uneven, ad hoc and inadequate. A key development in gender mainstreaming in Ireland was the adoption of Gender Impact As- sessment (GIA) guidelines in March 2000. These guidelines were adopted as part of a process of 25 There are 38 Enterprise Boards in Ireland, all governed by the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment.