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NWC welcomes launch of the Department of Health’s Women’s Health Action Plan

Published: Thursday, April 18, 2024

National Women’s Council says new Plan must respond to the health needs of marginalised women

The new Women’s Health Action Plan, launched today by the Department of Health, pledges further investment to expand and develop new women’s health services. This includes initiatives like the Free Contraception Scheme, which NWC has continuously advocated for as a member of Women’s Health Taskforce, being extended by a further 4 years to women aged 17 – 35 years.

NWC’s Director, Orla O’Connor said:

“Expanding the free contraception scheme to 35-year-olds will positively impact reproductive rights by reducing barriers and costs to women. The success of the initiative to date is evident, with more than 200,000 women accessing free contraception in 2023. We look forward to working with the Department to ensure other reproductive health services for women across their life course are developed, such as the ambulatory gynecological treatment centres, specialist menopause clinics, abortion services, additional community postnatal hubs, and the first public Assisted Human Reproduction Treatment Centre.”

The commitment to improve the mental health and well-being of women through a new whole of Government National Mental Health Promotion Framework and Action Plan is to be welcomed. It is imperative, however, that there is renewed focus to build upon developments to date, and deliver gender sensitive mental health services which meet the needs of all women and girls. Critically, this includes the development of perinatal mental health supports, including the establishment of a Mother and Baby Unit, and the expansion of specialist eating disorder services.

To bridge the significant health inequalities experienced by marginalised women – including  migrant women, Traveller and Roma women, disabled women, and LGBTQI+ women – the development and evaluation of funded initiatives under the Women’s Health Action Plan need to acknowledge existing barriers. This should include a greater emphasis on the need for targeted and culturally appropriate supports to ensure all women have the same opportunities in accessing, experience and outcomes of health services.

NWC’s Women’s Health Coordinator, Doireann Crosson added:

“The Department has committed to ongoing investment which must be secured through significant increased funding in women’s health in annual budgets including Budget 2025. Building on commitments to continue to listen to the voices of women, extensive and meaningful engagement with marginalised women must be achieved. Critically, we need robust monitoring, implementation and evaluation mechanisms  to ensure the full realisation of this Plan. This includes embedding equality data collection so that gaps in participation and access among marginalised women can be made visible and addressed. A clear alignment and implementation of existing policies which complement the ambitions of this Plan must be delivered  to ensure its success and improve the health outcomes of all women and girls living in Ireland.”



For comment: Doireann Crosson, Women’s Health Coordinator

For more information, please contact Sinéad Nolan NWC Communications and Social Media Coordinator on sineadn@nwci.ie


About NWC

The National Women’s Council is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. We have over 190 member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters.

The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work.

We are a movement-building organisation rooted in our membership, working on the whole island of Ireland. We are also part of the international movement to protect and advance women’s and girls’ rights. Our purpose is to lead action for the achievement of women’s and girls’ equality through mobilising, influencing, and building solidarity. Find out more on www.nwci.ie