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President Higgins and Mrs Sabina Higgins celebrate 50 years of the National Women’s Council

Published: Tuesday, March 14, 2023

President Michael D. Higgins and NWC Banloach Sabina Higgins today welcomed the current Executive Board and staff as well as former Chairpersons, Vice Chairpersons and Directors of the National Women’s Council (NWC) to Áras an Uachtaráin in celebration of the organisation’s 50-year anniversary this year.  

Set up in 1973 by a group of pioneering women and their organisations, NWC was involved in achieving key gains for women's rights and equality over the past fifty years, including ending the marriage bar and introducing divorce, abortion rights, gender quotas, and laws on violence against women.  

Today, the National Women’s Council has over 190 member groups representing a diversity of women in Ireland, including migrant women, Traveller women, disabled women, rural women, survivors of domestic and sexual violence, working class women, older women and younger women.  

President Higgins said: 

“It gives Sabina and myself great pleasure to welcome past and present members of the National Women’s Council of Ireland to Áras an Uachtaráin on this special occasion as we celebrate 50 years since the establishment of the NWC. Hilda Tweedy of the Irish Housewives Association must be given great credit for setting up the Council for the Status of Women, as it was then called in 1973, with the goal of gaining equality for women. 
As the National Women’s Council reaches the milestone anniversary of a half-century, it is an appropriate occasion to review the progress that we have made, but also to consider more deeply the nature and scale of the journey we have yet to complete to achieve the full enjoyment of women’s rights and full gender equality, both in Ireland and indeed globally. 
The question of women’s rights is one that engages the fundamental structures and core values of our society. Women’s rights, for all of us – women, men and children – remain one of the great ethical challenges of our time. Let us all cooperate together to continue to create a future of respect and freedom across the sexes, a more equal, inclusive and harmonious society that supports a flourishing human diversity on this vulnerable planet.” 

Recognising the crucial role of the many women who were closely involved with the National Women’s Council over the past 50 years, NWC Chairperson Margaret Martin said, 

“The work of forging and nurturing relationships, discussion and consensus building, and mobilising and campaigning for change is hard work that is often invisible. Today we want to recognise the contribution of the many women involved in the National Women’s Council for making Ireland a better place for all.”  

She continued, 

“Despite the significant improvements for women over the past fifty years, we also know that progress has not been experienced equally by all women. And many of the issues that were discussed in 1973 are still relevant today. We continue to work towards women’s equal representation, an end to violence against women, full economic equality and an equal sharing of care work. And when we think of all we have achieved over the past 50 years, we can be very hopeful that by coming together in the National Women’s Council we can progress these issues, for our daughters, granddaughters, and all of society.” 

NWC is honoured that, in addition to today’s celebration, President Higgins and Sabina Higgins have invited members of the National Women’s Council to a Garden Party in the summer.  


Mrs Sabina Higgins is NWC’s Banlaoch (heroine) for the duration of our 50-year celebration.  

For more information, please contact Sinéad Nolan, NWC Communications and Social Media Coordinator, 085 8619087 or sineadn@nwci.ie 



About NWC  

The National Women’s Council is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. We have over 190 member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters. 

This year we celebrate 50 years since our foundation with a special calendar of events and campaigns. Mrs Sabina Higgins has been named NWC Banloach for the duration of the celebration.  

The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work.  

We are a movement-building organisation rooted in our membership, working on the whole island of Ireland. We are also part of the international movement to protect and advance women’s and girls’ rights. Our purpose is to lead action for the achievement of women’s and girls’ equality through mobilising, influencing, and building solidarity. Find out more on www.nwci.ie