Government ‘has failed to meet women’s rights pledges’

Caroline O’Doherty

The issue was one of many highlighted by a group of Irish women invited to make presentations before a committee from the UN Division for the Advancement of Women at UN headquarters in New York.

The committee is inquiring into the progress made by signatories to the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which Ireland signed up to 20 years ago.

Progress has been slow in Ireland, according to the Irish delegation, comprising representatives from groups including the National Women’s Council, Women’s Aid, Pavee Point and the Irish Family Planning Association,

Among the failures they highlighted were:

Women are under-represented in politics, holding just 22 of 166 Dáil seats.

There are inadequate legal and social protections for women suffering violence.

Cancer screening and treatment is inadequate.

There is no national childcare system.

The abortion issue is unresolved.

Marginalised women including Travellers, asylum seekers and women in same-sex partnerships face more barriers with less support.

The Government will get its chance to rebut the complaints tomorrow when Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Frank Fahey, presents an alternative assessment which will highlight the advances made since 1985.

Head of the Irish delegation, Nóirín Clancy, said she was hopeful the meeting would spur the Government to tackle outstanding issues and place CEDAW higher up the domestic agenda.

Ms Clancy said the Government had ignored the convention to the extent that it was not even widely known that Ireland was a signatory. “It is a bit like a State secret,” she said.

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