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Programme for Government commitments to women’s equality must be centre stage

Published: Thursday, March 05, 2020

Programme for Government commitments to women’s equality must be centre stage this International Women’s Day, the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) said at its ‘Celebrate the Changemakers’ event with general election candidates and newly elected women TDs, across the main political parties.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,

“International Women’s Day falls in the midst of Government formation talks, where policy discussions and commitments will shape women’s lives for the next five years. At a time where we have the highest childcare costs in Europe, one of the highest rates of women homelessness in Europe, and only one third our recommended refuge spaces for women fleeing violence, it is critical that the women politicians gathered here today commit to progressing policies of women’s equality in programme for government negotiations.”

She continued, 

“Throughout the general election campaign, we have heard a lot about gangland killings, and parties being tough on crime. While this is of course an issue that warrants attention, the fact remains that domestic homicides have outpaced gangland murders by almost two to one in the last three years, and the juxtaposition of media and political attention between the two is stark.”

“Violence against women is not an issue that will go away without concerted focus put into protection of women, prosecution of perpetrators and of course, prevention of violence in the first place. Much more needs to be done by the State to ensure that women and their children are safe in Ireland. Political parties must commit to the full implementation of the Istanbul Convention, as well as pledging to establish domestic homicide reviews, so that we can develop a best practice response in relation to domestic violence including risk assessment and risk management. With much needed political discussion ongoing in relation to housing and homelessness, it is crucial that parties undertake to triple the number of refuge spaces Ireland currently has for women fleeing violence.”

Orla O’Connor continued,

“The childcare affordability crisis must also be highlighted this International Women’s Day, and we are calling for a public childcare system to be a redline issue in Programme for Government negotiations. Women in Ireland want to see political parties commit to increase investment in affordable, quality, public childcare and paid parental leave, ensuring childcare workers earn at least a living wage, and supporting lone parents with targeted resources.”  

She concluded, 

“We have seen from recent controversies such as CervicalCheck that women’s health must be given consistent focus and dedicated resources. Ireland has had a litany of historic health scandals effecting women, and we are still in the midst of two women’s health controversies – CervicalCheck; and concerns over religious control of the national maternity hospital. We have to ensure political parties place a sustained focus on women’s health, on the gaps that exist in services and in driving the change that women have been so active in calling for publicly. This means a commitment to the delivery of SláinteCare; to developing women centred mental health services; to the introduction of universal, free contraception and to ensuring access to the full range of abortion services across the country.”  

“NWCI are also campaigning for the Citizens’ Assembly to recommend a public care infrastructure, as well as a referendum on Women in the Home and a new article in the Constitution to recognise care. It will be important that parties pledge to implement the Citizens’ Assembly recommendations on gender equality.”

 Ends /

For more information, please contact Sarah Clarkin, Communications and Social Media Officer, Tel. 085 861 9087 or Silke Paasche, Head of Communications, NWCI, Tel. 085 858 9104.