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NWCI addresses CEDAW Committee in Geneva on Ireland’s record on women’s rights

Published: Monday, February 13, 2017

For the first time in over a decade, Ireland is being examined 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, addressed the CEDAW Committee, highlighting issues such as childcare and pay; women in decision making; access to justice; violence against women; women in detention and abortion. NWCI also raised the lack of comprehensive disaggregated data pertaining to a range of areas where women’s rights are engaged.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,
“We recognise there are new commitments which have the potential, if the appropriate resources and political will is invested, to restore and advance women’s rights and equality in Ireland.”

NWCI made some key recommendations to the CEDAW Committee:

Economic Independence
That the Irish Government
• Establish mandatory annual gender pay gap reporting.
• Reverse cuts to pension entitlement, move to development of a Universal Pension, put women’s equality at core of pension reform.
• Legislate against insecure, non-fixed hour jobs as ‘reasonable offer of work’, recognise atypical work patterns  and establish ‘Living Wage’ through policy and practice.
• High quality affordable ECCE for children, parents and workforce.
• Set firm targets to reduce deprivation for Lone Parents, and reverse the negative, gendered effects of “activation” measures and the maintenance system.
• Gender and equality-proof all economic policies, especially budgets.

Women in Decision Making
• We need the Irish Government to take concrete steps and positive measures, such as legislative quotas, to increase and diversify women’s participation in decision making roles in local elections, on boards and at senior level in public and private sectors.


Access to Justice

• We need the Irish Government to commit additional resources to civil legal aid, to review the financial eligibility criteria and to end the requirement for victims of domestic violence to pay financial contributions for legal aid.
• We need the Irish Government to establish a fully independent, international investigation into the practice of symphysiotomy in Ireland, with terms of reference and investigators to be determined by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission; and that all legal and procedural barriers to access to justice for victims, including the statute of limitations, be removed by the State party.
• We also call for a full, complete and public investigation of conditions/practices in all Irish institutions - (Mother & Baby Homes, Magdalene Laundries, Children's Homes, State Hospitals, Private Hospitals etc)- that forcibly incarcerated/housed unmarried mothers and/or their children, before enforcing and often illegal separating children from their mothers, mainly through adoption and fostering; the investigation should identify with appropriate & timely redress measures.

Violence Against Women

• Ratify the Istanbul Convention; and commit to robust data collection, with appropriate data protections for women and girls by all agencies working in the area of domestic and sexual violence.
• Increased resources for frontline state services to increase, reporting, prosecution and convictions and support for victims.
• Increase resources to NGOs and establish a transparent budgeting process for national planning of NGO services to meet the needs of women.
• Consider establishing a separate offence for domestic abuse
• Increase the emergency accommodation capacity of domestic violence services by 10% or by 14 family units every year for the next five years.

Women in Detention
• We need the Irish Government to implement gender-specific non-custodial options for women, and post-release supports including supported step-down residential facilities, which should be geographically spread.

• We need the Irish Government to commit to a referendum to repeal the eight amendment.

Orla O’Connor concluded,
“Women’s rights in Ireland still fall short of full equality. We urgently need to increase the pace of change for women’s equality in Ireland so that discrimination against women can be eliminated and women have full choices in all aspects of their lives.”

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