Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Women’s equality central to Sinn Féin’s vision for Ireland

5 May, 2007

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald speaking at the launch of the party's women's manifesto said that if Sinn Féin is in government following the General Election and the nurses dispute is still unresolved we will insist that their demand for the 35 hour working week and fair pay is delivered. Ms. McDonald said that the priority issues for Sinn Féin in this election are those of key concern to women - healthcare, education, childcare and housing.

Ms. McDonald

"Building an Ireland of equals is a core objective of Sinn Féin and we are leading by example. Our two MEPs are women, 30% of our MLAs are women and in this election more than 25% of our candidates are women. I believe that in this election we will see many women voting for Sinn Féin for the first time and this will ensure the return of the first women TDs for Sinn Féin since Constance Markievicaz.

"It is hardly surprising that the low participation of women in Irish politics coincides with the low priority given to issues of huge concern to women. In Ireland, women are still not adequately represented in public life. 51% of the population are women but only 13% of TDs are women and less than 17% of MLAs are women. 10 counties in the 26 Counties have no women TDs.

"Such under representation does not happen by accident but are caused by inequalities of power. It takes political vision and will to change these things, but it can be done.

"The priority issues for Sinn Féin in this election are those of key concern to women - healthcare, education, childcare and housing.

Women and decision making

  • Affirmative action to increase the participation of women in Irish life
  • State and public bodies to implement 60/40 gender quotas on public bodies
  • increased representation of women on LEADER and CLÁR Committees to at least 50%.

Equality for women

  • targeted training strategies and affirmative action measures, including in funding and other support for businesses and enterprises, to encourage women's entrepreneurship
  • increased measures to support flexible, family-friendly working arrangements.
  • modification of the social welfare and pensions system to give recognition for benefits to those who have worked in the home, including the introduction of a basic non-means tested pension supplemented by a second tier pension involving gender-neutral 'Carer's Credits' in lieu of social insurance contributions.
  • pension justice for women, involving retrospective pension credits for women who spent their working life caring for others and the introduction of a basic non-means tested pension supplemented by a system of Carers' Credits
  • fight for the introduction of full immigrant spousal work rights and family reunification rights.

Health, education and childcare

  • support for nurses demands for a 35 hour working week and decent pay and conditions
  • 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.
  • universal pre-school provision for children between the ages of 3 and 5.
  • support for employers providing on-site childcare.
  • affirmative action measures to place more women in educational and training streams for careers where they are underrepresented.

Violence against women and exploitation

  • increased secure multiannual funding for local crisis and support services for women experiencing violence.
  • enlargement of the network of refuges and an expansion of their capacity so that no woman in need will be turned away.
  • enlargement of the network of Sexual Assault Treatment Centres.
  • awareness raising and education around the issue of violence against women including the training of the Gardaí/PSNI and all staff involved in the judicial process, including judges.
  • more consistent prosecution of sexual assault or other abuse and domestic violence, coupled with priority access to free legal advice and representation for victims of domestic violence, and legal representation (State-funded if necessary) for victims of sexual assault and abuse cases.
  • ensure there is a co-ordinated all-Ireland approach to the issue of immigrant women being trafficked and sexually exploited, which does not penalise the women involved.

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