Women’s manifesto demands end to violence and gender pay gap and decriminalisation of abortion

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A new women’s manifesto launched in Londonderry this morning is calling for an end to violence against women, the elimination of the gender pay gap, the decriminalisation of abortion and affordable access to childcare.

The document was launched in the Foyle Women’s Information Network (FWIN) offices at the Holywell Building in Bishop Street.

Catherine Cooke, FWIN Co-ordinator, said: “We are delighted to be hosting this event to launch the women’s manifesto. This is an extremely useful tool for women to lobby on the doorstep when politicians come calling during election time.

“We want women to have the opportunity to address political representatives directly and have their say about the issues that affect their lives.”

Ann Hope, from the Women’s Policy Group, which produced the manifesto 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, 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.