Women’s Manifesto demands wide ranging reforms in Northern Ireland 11/03/2016 Women call on Northern Ireland politicians to demonstrate they have listened to women when they draw up their election manifestos. They demand that parties commit in their manifestos to introduce widespread reforms in the post-election Programme for Government that will address inequality in a number of key areas: • to put an end to violence against women at home and in the community; • to eradicate the gender pay gap which still exists despite the Equal Pay Act of 1970; • to provide the accessible, affordable childcare needed to offer opportunity when austerity bites women; • to decriminalise abortion in line with international human rights standards so that health professionals can provide care for women without threat of prosecution.
Ann Hope, from the Women’s Policy Group said: ‘Women are severely disadvantaged under Northern Ireland’s economic system. We are twice as likely to be dependent on social security as men so we are calling for strategies that really tackle social exclusion and poverty. We want a childcare strategy that facilitates women’s full participation in the labour market’.
Ellen Finlay, Women’s Sector Lobbyist at the Women’s Resource and Development Agency said: “These cannot be regarded solely as ‘issues for women’; they are fundamental to how we see ourselves as a fair and socially just society on the one hand, and an ambitious society engaging and deploying all talent to drive the economy forward on the other.”
“At the same time, we know from elsewhere that tackling the gross under-representation of women in politics and public life will unlock the talent needed to identify the critical issues and how they can best be solved.”
The Manifesto addresses inequalities in political representation and public life, asking the political parties to ensure that at least one woman is selected for every constituency and for measures to ensure gender balance in public appointments.
The Manifesto calls for Northern Ireland to match the best international standards: for the UN Convention on the Elimination against Women (CEDAW) to be copper fastened in domestic legislation; and for UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security to be used by the NI parties and Executive to monitor their progress on addressing the impact of the conflict on women and recognising and investing in the positive role that women play in conflict management.
The Manifesto demands equal rights for all minority groups including Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender; women with disabilities, older women, black and minority ethnic women, refugees and those seeking asylum.
The Women’s Manifesto was launched across Northern Ireland for the first time with public launches in Belfast, Derry/Londonderry and Cookstown. The Belfast launch, which took place in the Equality Commission, was chaired by Dawn Purvis and involved a panel of political representatives. To read the manifesto click here.