Women’s Human Rights Campaign 1998 Amnesty International (Irish Section), Banulacht, Community Workers Cooperative Women's Sub-Group, Dublin Aids Alliance, Forum of People with Disabilities Women's Sub-Group, Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas, Irish Penal Reform Trust, Irish Refugee Council, Lesbian Education and Awareness, Merchants Quay Project, National Traveller Women's Forum, National Women's Council of Ireland, Pavee Point, Ruhama Women’s Project, St. Michael’s Family Resource Centre, UNIFEM (Ireland), UNICEF (Ireland),Women's Aid, Women's Education, Research and Resource Centre, Women and Prostitution Project
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On the eve of International Women’s Day, at the Women and Human Rights Panel of the NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) Human Rights Forum hosted by the Department of Foreign Affairs at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham on Saturday 7th March, a coalition of organisations participating in the Women’s Human Rights Campaign 1998, drew attention to current threats to the human rights of women in Ireland and abroad. Speakers highlighted the particular situation of women refugees and asylum seekers, of women prostitutes, of trafficked women, and of women prisoners in Ireland and demanded the decriminalisation of prostitution, the immediate implementation of the Refugee Act 1996, and urgent action to improve the conditions of women prisoners.
Panelists asserted that in order for Ireland to fulfill its international human rights obligations and to afford greater legal protection to specific groups of women, including Traveller women, lesbian women and disabled women, the Government must immediately provide additional resources to the relevant section of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform to expedite the bringing into law of the proposed Equal Status legislation.
The Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas made a plea for the withdrawal of the extradition request against Roisin McAliskey.
Other issues raised included the human rights implications for women of economic globalisation, violence against women, and Ireland’s faliure to adequately address women’s reproductive health and rights.
The Forum is part of the Department’s activities to mark 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and precedes its participation in the 54th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights which takes place in Geneva between 16th March and 24th April. Earlier the Forum was addressed by Mary Robinson UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Liz O’ Donnell Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The Women’s Human Rights Campaign 1998 called on the Irish Government to demonstrate a real and practical commitment to women’s human rights concerns by developing (in conjunction with women’s organisations) a National Action Plan to implement the Beijing Platform for Action (agreed at the 1995 UN Conference on Women’s Rights). The Government was strongly criticised for its failure to ratify the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Convention Against Torture as well as its failure to lift its reservations to and actively implement CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women). The importance of a gender perspective within the Human Rights Unit of the Department of Foreign Affairs was emphasised, particularly in relation to development assistance projects, trade agreements and displaced persons.