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NWC calls for national conversation on care at its 50th Anniversary Annual General Meeting

Published: Thursday, June 15, 2023

The National Women’s Council (NWC) has called for a national conversation on creating a caring society at its Annual General Meeting Morning Event to mark the organisation’s 50th Anniversary today (Thursday, 15th June). The call comes ahead of the planned referendum on Art. 41.2. later this year.

At today’s event NWC’s almost 200 member organisations representing women from across the island of Ireland will look back over the many achievements for women since 1973, recognising the role that women activists and women’s organisations played in achieving these. The event will also be an opportunity to highlight the systemic inequalities that women continue to face, and the changes women want to see in the feminist future.

Speakers will include directors, former directors, members, and board members of NWC.

NWC Director Orla O’Connor said:

“Since 1973, women have gained gender quotas for general election candidates, access to abortion, divorce and free contraception, and vital legislation on violence against women, including marital rape and coercive control. At today’s event we will recognise the many women trailblazers who came together in solidarity and had the courage to speak out about difficult issues and call for changes that women needed.”

One of the key challenges which remain for women is the unequal sharing of caring responsibilities and the lack of affordable childcare. This 50th year of NWC has the potential to change that, with the upcoming referendum on Article 41.2 scheduled for November.

Ms O’Connor continued:

“Care is fundamental to the human experience and to the wellbeing of our society. Yet, so far, the State has failed to properly value, recognise or support care and instead has delegated responsibility to individuals - mostly women - and an underpaid and undervalued, predominantly female workforce.

The upcoming referendum is a historic opportunity to move away from the current hands-off approach to care by the State and instead lead a national conversation on how to create a caring society.  It is our chance to ensure those who provide care are supported and those who need care have choice and dignity in terms of the support they need.” The event will also discuss new and emerging challenges for women’s rights and equality, including online violence against women, a rise in far-right activism with its deeply anti-women sentiment, and the unequal impact of climate change on women and marginalised communities.

Ms O’Connor concluded:

“Women are often the hardest hit by national crises such as covid, the cost-of-living and austerity. Just as NWC and our members pulled together during those crises, we intend to centre women's voices during future challenges to ensure women shape our feminist future over the next 50 years.”

Speakers at the event will include:

Orla O’Connor, NWC
Caroline McCamley, Former Chairperson (1986 – 1988)
Grainne Healy, Former Chairperson (1999 – 2001)
Dr Salome Mbugua, Former Vice Chairperson (2010 – 2014)
Joanna McMinn, Former CEO (2001 – 2009)
Ellen O Malley Dunlop, Former Chairperson (2017 – 2018)
Sarah Monaghan, Board Member and Consent Director with DRCC
Collette McEntee, Project Coordinator with Feminist Communities for Climate Justice
Rose Marie Maughan, National Traveller Youth Programme Coordinator with Irish Traveller Movement
Paula Soraghan, Independent Living Movement Ireland