On the 8th of March, which was international women’s day, I had the honour of attending the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York. I was there as the chair of the Irish Consortium on Gender Based Violence. The consortium ran a very successful event on the day, which was opened Minister for state at the department of Justice, Equality & Defence Ms Kathleen Lynch, T.D. and focussed particularly on gender based violence in Sierra Leone.
The fight for equality and women’s rights has always been a driving passion in my life. I have fought for a female voice in politics throughout my political career and called for improved female health when I chaired the Dublin Well Woman clinics. While we have come far in some aspects since I first joined the crusade, I am sad to say that we are far from achieving equality in far too many areas.
The elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls is CSW’s priority theme this year and unfortunately this is one of the areas that little progress has been made on. Women from every walk of life, regardless of culture or status, experience violence on a daily basis. It is time that the international community made a real and concerted effort to effectively rid society of this devastating abuse. Men as well as women, I believe, are now demanding an end to violence against women and girls at a global level. We must leverage this movement and work together to make a real difference.
It was an honour to be in the company of some formidable women at the CSW, including UN Women Executive Director, Michelle Bachelet who made a rallying call to the international community to move forward on gender equality and women’s rights. She spoke from the heart when she stated that the world can see no real progress and there will be no equality without women’s full and equal rights and participation. Her message was clear; - we cannot move backwards, we must keep moving forward. It is what we owe to millions of women fighting for their rights around the world.
Her words and her passion was inspirational and I left New York with a regenerated faith that equality can be achieved.
I was delighted to hear great news that President Barack Obama signed the Violence against Women Act on International Women’s Day and that 50 governments and the European Commission have committed to take concrete action to end violence against girls and women and to guarantee access to critical services and justice – an essential step in turning words into reality.
The road to equal rights for women has been a long one and it continues to be a struggle but we must not lose faith. Women deserve equality. We deserve to be able to walk down a street and not fear for our safety. We deserve to be treated equally when applying for a job and we deserve to have our voices heard on all matters. I do believe that international will is now there to deliver a real change so that so that women and girls from every walk of life can one day live without the threat of violence and discrimination.
If you liked this article, don't be shy and please share it with your friends and family: