Dóchas Members Call on Ireland to Champion Women's Rights

As COVID-19 continues to reverse the drive towards gender equality, Dóchas and its members make the case for Government support

23 Mar 2021

“Woman’s jobs are twice as vulnerable as men’s and we are currently seeing large volumes of women leaving the workforce as a result of the current pandemic” -Mary Van Lieshout, Deputy CEO, Goal

Dóchas, the association of International Non-Governmental Organisations, today asked the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence to become a champion for women and gender equality across the world, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking in front of the committee, 5 Dóchas members working in the area of women’s rights and gender equality , including Goal, Christian Aid Ireland and its partners ABColombia, the Irish Family Planning Association  and Plan International, reminded the committee that achieving gender equality is key to achieving the Global Goals by 2030. The progress we have seen is now however under threat.

COVID-19 has had a disastrous effect on women and girls across the world and is in danger of reversing some of the positive progress that we’ve seen on gender equality over the past number of years. The UN Agency for Sexual and Reproductive Health 2020 State of World Population Report projects 13 million additional child marriages will take place over the next decade due to the impact of COVID-19 and, if the pandemic continues into this year, over 2 million preventable female genital mutilation cases will occur over the next decade.

CEO of Dóchas, Suzanne Keatinge, outlined four priorities in the fight for gender equality, as well as stating the importance of Ireland’s role on the world stage through its current membership of the UN Security Council. She said “The first priority must be equal access to the Covid-19 vaccine, we all know by now that until everyone is safe, no one is. Secondly, we must have renewed energy and focus on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) National Implementation Plan, with particular attention on SDG5 on Gender Equality. Thirdly, the Government must follow through on commitments made to funding gender equality programmes through Ireland’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget. Finally, we really need collaboration, between organisations and between countries. We have seen here today the collaboration that has taken place between our members and the committee to come up with solutions. We also need collaboration to ensure the national conversation on gender equality continues on a political level and amongst the Irish public.”

In her opening statement to the committee, Mary Van Lieshout deputy CEO of Goal, outlined what it means to be a champion for gender equality and to achieve gender equality, she said “it means we commit to ending all forms of discrimination, violence and harmful practices against all women and girls everywhere. It means recognising the value of unpaid care and domestic work. It means ensuring women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life. It means ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights and economic rights and resources.”

It’s over 25 years since the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action were agreed at the Fourth UN World Women’s Conference when 189 states, including Ireland, declared their: “Determination to advance the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere in the interest of all humanity”. Since then we know that progress on gender equality has been too slow despite some positive steps forward.

Closing the session, Dóchas called on the committee to ensure there is a more robust tracking of Ireland’s progress in furthering the SDG agenda in its partner countries and internationally, including tracking data on marginalized groups, including women and girls, and people living with disabilities, to support the EU’s Gender Action Plan (GAP) III and call on the Irish Government to swiftly operationalize it, including the commitment to allocate 85% of ODA to programmes which have gender equality as their principal objective, and to support Ireland’s international commitment in its ‘A Better World’ policy to addressing girls’ education as a priority.

Finally, Dóchas and its members called on the committee to work with the Irish government to ensure it uses its voice on the UN Security Council to encourage all countries to fully implement the commitments in the Convention on the Rights of all Forms of Elimination of Discrimination against Women (known as CEDAW). Ireland needs to be a champion of not just Women, Peace and Security, but also of gender equality more broadly.

Read the full opening statement here.

Watch the full session here.


What would like to talk about: