Women’s Rights as Human Rights: Local and Global Perspectives

Strategies and Analyses from the ICCL Working Conference on Women’s Rights as Human Rights (Dublin, March 1997)

Edited by Niamh Reilly


This publication presents the proceedings of the Working Conference on Women’s Rights as Human Rights (Dublin, March 1997) convened by the ICCL Women’s Committee. The event brought together more than 400 diverse women from all over Ireland to focus on human rights as a framework to advance women’s rights internationally but especially here in Ireland.

Like all events of this scale, many women were involved in making it a success. In particular, the Organising Committee members worked extremely hard over a period of six months generously giving their time, office space, resources, and enthusiasm to ensure that the conference would be an inclusive and productive event for all participants. The Consultative Forum provided critical input on the agenda and played a vital role in ensuring that information about the conference reached women all over the country.

Thanks must also go to all the participants who made the conference and this publication possible by taking time out of their busy lives to spend a day and a half exchanging views, listening to each other, and strategizing about how to make women’s human rights a reality.

This publication owes a special debt to the women, including our international guests, whose outstanding presentations (Parts 1 and 2 of this publication) moved and inspired us and fuelled the challenging and productive working sessions that followed. Also greatly appreciated, is the skill and hard work of the women who generously acted as facilitators, resource persons, and rapporteurs in 18 working sessions throughout the day; their contribution is reflected in the thoughtful and provocative discussions that are recorded in Parts 3 and 4 of this publication. Thanks too to Noreen Byrne and Grainne Healy who expertly moderated the opening and closing plenary sessions respectively. The conference closed with four lively wrap-up presentations by Mary Keogh, Caroline Mathews, Marie Mulholland and Niamh Wilson all of whom did an outstanding job reviewing the highlights and main concerns of the day. (See Appendix (i) for a contact list of the members of the Organising Committee, Consultative Forum and those who played roles in the conference programme as speakers, moderators, facilitators, resource persons, and rapporteurs.)

An invaluable team of volunteers from the LEA-NOW project, the Women’s Education, Research and Resource Centre, and Women’s Aid ensured that everything went smoothly on the day at Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Thanks also to Bernadette Ferguson and Evelyn Nolan who provided signing interpretation, and Denise Charlton and Fiona Tiernan who volunteered their time to work on media and logistics in the weeks running up to the conference.

Special recognition goes to the ICCL executive and the members of the ICCL women’s committee for encouraging, supporting, and working on this conference, especially Ursula Barry and Melissa Murray. Special thanks are also due to John McDermott who shared the ICCL office with the conference organisers and gladly helped whenever needed. Last but not least, sincere thanks to Sophie Magennis whose expert assistance and good humour were invaluable both in organising the conference and in the production of this publication.

In addition to the National Committee for Development Education and the Combat Poverty Agency who funded this publication, other sponsors who made the conference possible were: the European Human Rights Foundation; the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust; the Shaler Adams Foundation; and members of the Organising Committee including Banulacht, ICCL, Women’s Education, Research and Resource Centre, and Women’s Aid. In addition, funding was gratefully received from the National Rehabilitation Board to facilitate the participation of women with disabilities. Funding for Speakers from the global South was provided by Oxfam (Ireland) and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The Organising Committee for the conference included:

Amnesty International (Irish Section) Banúlacht Centre for Research and Documentation (Belfast) Committee for the Administration of Justice (Belfast) Forum of People with Disabilities – Women’s Sub-Group Irish Council for Civil Liberties – Women’s Committee Irish Refugee Council National Traveller Women’s Forum Irish Commission of Prisoners Overseas Lesbian Education and Awareness-NOW programme National Council of Women in Ireland NODE (Network and Outreach in Development Education) Pavee Point Oxfam (Ireland) Women’s Aid Women’s Education, Research and Resource Centre (UCD) Women’s Support Network (Belfast)

The Consultative Forum included:

Access 2000 (Waterford) Birr Women’s Group Clare Women’s Network Community Development Workers Co-operative Women’s Sub-group Development Education for Youth (DEFY) Fermanagh Women’s Network Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed Irish Penal Reform Trust Irish Rural Link (Galway) Northern Ireland Women’s Rights Movement Nothern Ireland Women’s European Platform Rita McNulty of the Programme for Peace and Reconciliation Tralee Women’s Forum West Training and Development Wexford Women’s Action Women of the North West Women’s Resource and Development Agency (Belfast) Women’s Studies Centre (UCG)

Niamh Reilly

November, 1997

Introduction | Back to Table of Contents