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New Government Department must prioritise ending sexual violence and harassment

Published: Monday, July 27, 2020

At a meeting with Minister Simon Harris this morning, the National Women’s Council (NWC) said the new Department of Further and Higher Education must prioritise ending sexual violence and harassment in Third Level Institutions.

A meeting took place between Minister Harris, NWC and representatives of the National Advisory Committee (NAC), a committee of stakeholders, convened and chaired by NWC, to end sexual violence and harassment in third level institutions.

Orla O’Connor, Director of the National Women’s Council (NWC) said,

“Women aged 18-29 are most likely to experience sexual harassment and violence, and many of these will be students which makes them less likely to report these crimes when compared with other groups. Sexual harassment and violence both offline and online, has a significant impact on their lives, yet many young women experience this in an ongoing atmosphere of silence.   While sexual harassment and violence are not unique to higher and further education institutes, these institutes are uniquely placed in showing leadership on this issue and implementing the zero tolerance culture and preventative measures that can drive the long term societal change needed to ensure all women are safe.””

“NWC welcomes Minister Harris calling for this meeting at an early stage in taking up his new role.  It sends a strong signal to the higher and further education sector of the seriousness with which he takes the issue of sexual violence and harassment in third level education for students and staff. The Programme for Government explicitly recognised that there is epidemic levels of violence against women and committed to working with the NGO sector and all partners to end it. Making progress on ending sexual violence and harassment at third level is a key part of this.”

Jennifer McCarthy Flynn, Head of Policy at NWC said,

“We will be calling on the Minister to ensure that the funding which was made available in 2019 to resource the NAC and the actions of student unions and institutions is secured in Budget 2021.”


For more information, please contact Sarah Clarkin, Communications Coordinator, Tel. 085 861 9087.

Note to Editors:

What: Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris TD meets National Advisory Committee to discuss tackling sexual harassment and violence in third level education

When: 27 July 11am-1pm

Where: Dublin Castle