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Government to be examined by the UN on women’s rights

Published: Monday, February 13, 2017

For the first time in ten years, the Irish Government will be examined by the United Nations, under the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The Director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI), Orla O’Connor, will today make a presentation to the CEDAW Committee, highlighting the lack of comprehensive disaggregated data pertaining to a range of areas where women’s rights are engaged, alongside a lack of urgency, prioritisation and resources for key areas such as violence against women, childcare and women’s economic independence.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,

“NWCI recognises that significant positive advancements have occurred for women’s equality, but there remain persistent structural inequalities for women in Ireland.  My presentation to the Committee highlights the issues that have not been adequately covered by the State in their official report, and it also shines a spotlight on areas which need greater resources and prioritisation.”

“Certain areas of women’s equality have been given increased prioritisation in Ireland in recent years, and we see this with the introduction of paternity leave, of a subsidised childcare model, and with the new Domestic Violence Bill. Yet, advances in women’s equality have been piecemeal, and painfully slow. For instance, although we are making advances in ending violence against women, one in five women still experience domestic abuse, and one woman a month on average is murdered, the majority in her home by a partner or ex-partner. Although we have seen progress with the numbers of women in the Dail now standing at 26% due to gender quotas, our overall numbers of women in leadership positions are low. And while the Citizen’s Assembly looks at the issue or reproductive healthcare, 12 women a day travel, and we are witnessing a void when it comes to political leadership on this issue.”

Orla O’Connor concluded,

“The evidence from this ten year period shows that when the Irish Government prioritises women’s equality, it can have a real impact. Women want to live free from violence, in a society which values their right to make choices about their future and their own medical decisions, and in an economy rewards their work equally, and values care work. CEDAW is an important moment for women’s rights in Ireland, and NWCI expect that the Irish Government will be held to account, and placed under international pressure to accelerate the pace of change for women’s equality.”

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) CEDAW Shadow Report is available here. 

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For more information, please contact Sarah Clarkin, Communications Officer, 085 8619087.

Notes to the Editor:

The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is an international treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. It is often described as an international ‘Bill of Rights’ by women.

The National Women’s Council of Ireland will present to the CEDAW Committee on Monday February 13 2017. The Irish Government delegation led by An Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald will be examined by the CEDAW Committee on Wednesday February 15 2017.

As part of this process, the State submitted, on the 15 September 2016, a written response to a list of issues identified by an independent expert body within the United Nations, (the CEDAW Committee). (See here for Ireland’s combined sixth and seventh periodic Report to the UN CEDAW Committee, along with an Annex of statistical data.)