The following is the text of a letter written by a number of regular HRinI contributors and signed by over 100 academics, which was published in the Irish Times today (full list of signators only available online). Here we have added a number of additional signatures received after the letter went to press. Others who wish to express their desire for a referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment to the Constitution should sign the petition organised by the Abortion Rights Campaign here.
We are people in or from Ireland. We are under the age of 50. We could not vote in the 1983 abortion referendum which profoundly limited women’s autonomy. No subsequent referendum has provided an opportunity to undo that damage. Many of us have lived our whole lives under an abortion regime in which we have had no say. As a generation we have grown up knowing that the State would compel us to travel if we wished to exercise substantive control over our reproductive lives. Continue reading “Time for Our Referendum”
A new free legal service for women has been launched by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. TrustLaw Women aims to provide free legal assistance, news and information on good governance and women’s rights. It is part of wider network called TrustLaw which aims to:
- Spread the culture and practice of pro bono work around the world, connecting those who need legal assistance with lawyers willing to work at no cost
- Offer a one-stop shop for news and information on good governance and anti-corruption issues
- Offer a similar one-stop shop on women’s rights issues
As part of the launch TrustLawWomen has released a survey of the most dangerous places in the world to be a women. At the top of the list was Afghanistan followed by Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India and Somalia.
The website is extremely detailed with much information and detail of the types of rights and governance issues faced by women across the world. It aims to make it more straightforward ‘for organisations with limited means to access free legal assistance and simpler for lawyers to engage in high impact pro bono work.’ This appears to be an extremely worthwhile project which utilises both new technology and the goodwill of legal professionals in a constructive and positive manner.
Today is International Women’s Day. The UN’s Theme for the Day is ‘Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All‘. A directory of Irish events to mark the day is available here.
On March 5, the President of the European Commission launched a ‘Women’s Charter‘, which aims at building a gender perspective into all Commission policies for the next five years.
The Charter presents a series of commitments based on agreed principles of equality between women and men. It aims to promote:
- equality in the labour market and equal economic independence for women and men, namely through the Europe 2020 strategy;
- equal pay for equal work and work of equal value by working with Member States to reduce significantly the gender pay gap over the next five years; (In Ireland, the average pay gap stands at 17.1 %)
- equality in decision-making through EU incentive measures; (see a picture of Irish performance here)
- dignity, integrity and an end to gender-based violence through a comprehensive policy framework;
- gender equality beyond the EU by pursuing the issue in external relations and with international organisations.
The Charter will be followed by a new strategy for gender equality to be adopted by the Commission in mid-2010.
On the day of the Green Party Convention to consider the proposed revised programme for government we followed the activities as much as we could in this post. One of the commitments contained within the PfG is that a constitutional referendum would be held to amend Article 41.2 of Bunreacht na hÉireann (the Constitution of Ireland) to refer not to women and mothers within the home (as is currently the case) but to the parent within the home. Article 41.2 currently provides:
1° In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.
2° The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.
This controversial constitutional provision is, perhaps, a product of its time. Adopted following a plebiscite of the people in 1937, the Irish Constitution’s tendency towards Catholic sensibilities has been widely documented notwithstanding the fact that it espouses secular values. Article 41.2 is gender specific and reflects an expectation that women and mothers would be the primary care-givers within the home. Continue reading “Valuing the ‘Parent’ within the Home: Proposals in the Renewed Programme for Government”