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NWCI welcomes the Concluding Observations of the CEDAW Committee

Published: Thursday, March 30, 2017

NWCI welcome the Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which arise as a consequence of Ireland’s examination under the Convention in early 2017. The CEDAW Committee acknowledge the positive aspects of the State’s compliance with the Convention since it was last reviewed in 2005, as well as highlight the principal areas of concern and the recommendations to facilitate future compliance. The Observations and ensuing recommendations reflect many of the issues that were highlighted in our Shadow Report, as well as representations made by NWCI to the Committee during the examination in early February.

Once again the Committee calls on the State to amend Article 41.2 of the Constitution in order to remove the stereotypical language on the role of women in the home, and to introduce legislative provisions that underline the obligation of the State to pursue actively the achievement of substantive equality between women and men. Most particularly, they have asked the State to ensure that the recommendations in the present Concluding Observations and the results of the gender impact assessment of the National Women’s Strategy 2007-2016 inform the formulation of indicators, benchmarks and timelines for the National Women’s Strategy 2017-2020. Given that the Domestic Violence Bill 2017 is currently before the Oireachtas, NWCI welcome the recommendation to criminalise domestic violence and introduce a specific definition of domestic violence and other emerging forms of gender-based violence such as online stalking and harassment, and we would urge the State to take particular note of this.

The Committee also notes the numerous recommendations on the unresolved issue of historical abuses of women and girls by other United Nations human rights mechanisms such as the Human Rights Committee, the Committee Against Torture, and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In that respect the Committee has requested that Ireland provide, within two years, written information on the steps undertaken “to conduct prompt, independent and thorough investigations, in line with international human rights standards, into all allegations of abuse in Magdalene laundries, children’s institutions, Mother and Baby homes, and symphysiotomy in order to prosecute and punish the perpetrators of those involved in violations of women’s rights, and ensure that all victims/survivors of such abuse obtain an effective remedy, including appropriate compensation, official apologies, restitution, satisfaction, and rehabilitative services”. Within that same timeframe the Committee has requested that the State “Repeal the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 in order to legalise the termination of pregnancy at least in cases of rape, incest, risk to the physical or mental health or life of the pregnant woman, and severe impairment of the foetus, and de-criminalize abortion in all other cases.”

NWCI also welcome the Committee’s recommendation to the State to allocate sufficient budgetary and human resources to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission in order to discharge its functions effectively and take appropriate measures to restore funding for non-governmental organisations working in the field of women’s rights to enable them to continue to contribute to the implementation of the Convention.

The Committee made a number of important recommendations across a diversity of fields including: our constitutional and legislative framework; access to justice; the National Women’s Strategy; gender proofing; gender based violence; trafficking and exploitation of prostitution; participation in political and public life; education; employment; and health. To find out more see CEDAW/C/IRL/CO/6-7