Fianna Fáil is looking at the future of women’s healthcare over the next 5 years and the purpose of this policy is to state clearly what we want to achieve. It is our mission to deliver a five-star, gold-plated public health service for women in Ireland with a focus on prevention and timely intervention. 

Over the past 9 months, we have spoken to women of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities in Ireland and many have told us that they do not feel listened to or taken seriously when it comes to their healthcare. Delivering better outcomes in women’s health is a priority for Fianna Fáil and over the past two years in Government a lot has been achieved in this space. We are now planning further ahead and want to be ambitious for women’s healthcare in Ireland. 

Highly skilled and dedicated clinicians all over Ireland provide excellent services in women’s healthcare every day. But it is clear that further dedicated investment is required to ensure we improve women’s experiences and outcomes. Healthcare should be accessible, equitably distributed and should support the changing health needs of women throughout their life course. 

To ensure that we heard as wide a range of views as possible during the development of this policy, we sought to engage in a variety of ways. We launched two national surveys on women’s health in mid-2021 to gather women’s experiences, views and priorities. We then held a series of discussions with organisations and experts over the course of nine months. Finally, we held a public conference in April this year in which experts, practitioners and members of the public came together to discuss key issues on women’s health. At all stages, members of our parliamentary party and our councillors engaged with us on the issues and provided their own lived and professional experiences. Taken together, all of this has allowed for a rounded and complete look at the key issues. We are immensely grateful to everyone for their time, openness and engagement. 

We have listened to women right across the country and across all ages and heard that many feel the health system can be patriarchal with women often missing from key decision-making roles. Women from minorities also told us of institutional discrimination and the impact this had on their access to healthcare. 

Supporting and resourcing women’s health is about empowering women to realise their right to take part in society and to achieve their potential. Across the board, health policies need to be gender and equality proofed to tackle the inherent bias that frequently exists in the provision of healthcare to women. 

We know that many aspects of women’s health have traditionally been taboo topics, and society has only recently started to open up and discuss them. This is empowering many of us to speak of our experiences and interactions with the health system – often for the first time. 

It is important now that this momentum is harnessed to make sure that women’s health is placed on an equal footing 

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Senator Lisa Chambers

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