Candidates urged to stand up for women’s equality in election

Women’s council calls on politicians to sign manifesto aimed at ending gender inequality

 Orla O’Connor, Tara Flynn, Laura Hardiman and Louise O’ Neill at the National Women’s Council’s FemFest     conference in Croke Park:  The council’s breakthrough manifesto highlights 10 key areas it says will change the outlook for women in Ireland. Photograph: Colm Mahady/Fennells

Orla O’Connor, Tara Flynn, Laura Hardiman and Louise O’ Neill at the National Women’s Council’s FemFest conference in Croke Park: The council’s breakthrough manifesto highlights 10 key areas it says will change the outlook for women in Ireland. Photograph: Colm Mahady/Fennells

 

The forthcoming general election has the potential to be a breakthrough election for women in Ireland, the director of the National Women’s Council, Orla O’Connor, has said.

The council is asking candidates standing in the election to sign up to a Breakthrough Manifesto for Women – a 10-point plan that commits them to “take action to end gender inequality” if they are elected to the 32nd Dáil.

A number of politicians have signed up including Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Independent Senators Averil Power and Katherine Zappone, Independent Socialist TD Clare Daly, and Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy.

“The gender quota has ensured that, for the first time, voters will have a real choice to vote for more women. We now want to encourage all candidates to demonstrate their support for concrete policies that will be crucial to accelerate the pace of change for women’s equality in Ireland,” Ms O’Connor said.

Feminists

Feminism has become popular and a number of Ministers and Ministers for State say they are feminists, but now is the time to stop being vague about commitments to gender equality, Ms O’Connor added. “Candidates may say they want to increase women’s equality, but this must be more than lip service and voters need to be very clear what they are voting for. The manifesto should help people to decide who to vote for.”

The council’s breakthrough manifesto highlights 10 key areas it says will change the outlook for women in Ireland. The areas were decided after “a lot of consultation with our members”, Ms O’Connor said.

“One of the 10 key demands highlighted in our manifesto is to remove the Eighth Amendement from our Constitution to provide women with full reproductive rights and ensure that Irish law is in line with international human rights standards”.

She said after wide consultation with women across the State and a number of opinion polls showing that “Irish people want greater access to abortion”, it was clear “the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution must go”. The council is asking general election candidates to commit to this.

Pledges

Statistics show that one in five women in Ireland experiences physical and sexual violence at some time in their lives and ending such violence is also high on the council’s checklist for candidates’ election pledges.

“After Ireland finally signed the Istanbul Convention on Violence against Women in 2015, we need candidates who will prioritise its implementation, including strengthening legislation and investing in frontline services,” she said.

Women in Ireland will also be looking for candidates who are committed to investing in “affordable, accessible, quality childcare,” she said.

By signing up to the manifesto on nwci.ie candidates will commit to supporting and lobbying for these policies when elected to the Dáil, Ms O’Connor said. “This is very much about men and women. We need to see more women elected and more support for gender equality. Parties’ commitments may be vague and candidates may say they want to increase women’s equality, but we are giving them concrete steps they can take to achieve this.”

Women’s manifesto – Key issues 1. Change Ireland’s record on violence against women 2. Make early years education and childcare a priority 3. Close the gender pay gap and deliver decent work for women 4. End the gender pension gap and recognise the contribution of care 5. Make sure every budget delivers on equality 6. Support reproductive rights and repeal of the 8th Amendment 7. Strengthen social protection, training and employment support 8. Advance women’s leadership and participation in decision making – local and national 9. Protect and invest in public services and ensure they serve the needs of all women 10. Deliver a strong National Action Plan for Women’s Equality