Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Equality for women must be a real priority

3 June, 2004

Dublin EU candidate Mary Lou McDonald was joined by South Down Assembly member Catríona Ruane and Dublin local election candidates Sorcha Nic Chormaic, Aíne Ní Gabhann and Bernie Quinn for the launch of the Sinn Féin Women's Manifesto in Buswell's Hotel in Dublin this morning. Ms McDonald said: "Our manifesto is simple. It demands equality for women in every area of their lives and it states the most obvious means to achieve it."

Ms McDonald said:

"Women do not enjoy equal status in Ireland today. This is reflected, not just in politics, but in the workplace, in the home and in every other area of a woman's life. According to the ESRI, "One in every four women in Ireland raising children or managing households on their own will experience poverty despite our economic boom." This society needs a complete sea-change, if women are ever to enjoy the rights that they are fully entitled to.

"One of the more visible areas of inequality is the political arena. Women are still not fully represented in either national politics or in local government. Women make up 51% of our population, but only 13% of TDs are women. 10 counties have no women TDs and only 15% of elected Councillors are women.

"Two of our five candidates for the EU elections are women and 21% of our local government candidates are women. While this represents an improvement, we are committed to continuing to work in this area until we achieve full gender parity.

"Sinn Féin believes that we cannot have a just and free society without equality for women. Our manifesto is simple. It demands equality for women in every area of their lives and it states the most obvious means to achieve it. For example, we're calling for:

  • State and public bodies to implement 60/40 gender quotas on boards of management and in the policy making arena, and the appointment of at least 40% women to the next EU Commission
  • An increase in the minimum wage and the elimination of the gender pay gap
  • paid parental leave
  • Extended maternity benefit from 18 weeks to 26 weeks
  • The abolition of the means test for full time carers
  • A central unit to co-ordinate Government strategy, policy and funding for childcare and reversal of the decision to withdraw the childcare allowance from single parents on the Return to Education programme
  • Adequate funding to local authorities for implementing targets for the elimination of housing waiting lists
  • A free and prompt national breast screening programme for all women over 40 and free and regular cervical screening for all teenage girls and women
  • Increased secure funding for local crisis and support services for women experiencing violence, and the enlargement of the network of refuges
  • old age pensioners‚ social insurance contributions to be linked to inflation
  • The introduction of a rights-based Disability Bill
  • The repeal of the Housing Miscellaneous Provisions Act that criminalises Traveller women
  • The introduction of legislation that allows for discrimination against non-national women or that violates our international obligation to protect refugee women, to be opposed.

"Until we have implemented all of these demands, women will remain the lesser partner in this society. Building an Ireland of Equals in one of Sinn Féin‚s core objectives, and as part of that we will continue to campaign for absolute equality for women." ENDS

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