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National Women’s Council of Ireland : Annual Conference 2001, Launch of the ’ Millennium Reports’

Published: Friday, July 06, 2001

Keynote Speaker:
Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Gráinne Healy, Chairwoman of the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) welcomed Mary Robinson, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and thanked her for launching the NWCI Millennium Project Reports. She also welcomed NWCI members and guests.

'The six themes of the Millennium Project - education, poverty, local development, violence against women, work and health each has its own publication and there is also an Executive Summary. The Project used a Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) approach, which seeks to build bridges between local women and policy makers' stated Ms Healy. She went on to explain that PLA, unlike other research methodologies, demands two way learning with movement towards action as a central aim of the process. 'Like other feminist methodologies, it seeks to affirm women's lived experience and to build policy demands on the basis of the changes which women wish to see in their everyday lives' continued Ms. Healy. 'The 610 women who participated in the Millennium Project, have demanded access to education and training, the removal of the live register, a women friendly health service and the elimination of male violence against women, which has seen the death of almost 30 women in the last few years' she added.

'On the wider global agenda of rights, I would like to wish Commissioner Robinson every success with the forthcoming UN World Conference against Racism and Xenophobia in Durban, South Africa in September. The challenge for those attending will be to ensure that the gender perspective is central to the discussions and outcome documents' asserted Ms. Healy.

'I would like to take this opportunity to offer the support of NWCI for the UN Special Rapporteur's Report on Violence against Women its causes and consequences. We especially welcome her unequivocal statement of recognition of rape as a weapon of war and her proposal that women have a vital perspective on creating peace and must be involved in peace negotiations' she continued.

'We are however, concerned with the definition of trafficking used in that document and reject the term 'sex workers' to describe women and children who are being used for sexual exploitation and profit' added Ms Healy.

'The NWCI welcomes the UN Trafficking Protocol, which seeks to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in women and children' stated Ms Healy. 'We must wake up to the fact that Ireland is a country of destination and of transit for trafficked women. Sexual exploitation of women is an act of violence against women and a contravention of women's human rights. The traffickers must be punished and the victims given support and sanctuary' she added.

'The NWCI calls on the Government to ensure that Irish legislation in relation to prevention of trafficking reflects the UN Protocol stance, so that the victims of trafficking are no longer viewed as criminals but as victims of crime' concluded Ms. Healy.