Pay equality, convictions for domestic violence, childcare subsidies, pension rights for women who took time out to care for their families.
These are just some of the issues being championed and fought for by the National Women’s Council of Ireland.
Orla O’ Connor, Director of NWCI, on why 2018 has been, and will continue to be, a monumental year for women in Ireland – and how you can help to set the agenda.
What is the NWCI?
NWCI is the leading national women’s membership organisation, founded in 1973. We represent and derive our mandate from our membership, which includes individual members and more than 185 groups from a diversity of backgrounds, sectors and locations across Ireland.
What makes the National Women’s Council of Ireland unique is that we bring so many different women’s organisations together under a common umbrella to campaign on issues that affect ALL Women.
Appropriately funded and quality women’s healthcare is integral to a woman’s life journey.
We know that creating a more equal and collaborative society for all requires tackling structural gender inequalities. To that end we work closely with the Department of Justice, Health and Environment, politicians and other key stakeholders on solutions to achieve equality for women in Ireland. We are also on the steering committee for the National Women’s Strategy 2017-2020.
Appropriately funded and quality women’s healthcare is integral to a woman’s life journey. Be it reproductive health from age 12 to menopause, cancer screening & care, neurological diseases and mental health – they are all important and a key area of focus for us.
We also champion women’s organisations and women in leadership positions – politically, and at business and civic level. Equally, we recognize the value of care work and work in the home, allowing women equal access to decent paid work, housing and pensions.
The abortion referendum was the culmination of years of work by NWCI in galvanising our member groups and other grass roots support through our role as one of the leading organisations in the Together For Yes Campaign.
In what areas have you seen progress over the past 12 months?
2018 has been a monumental year for Women in Ireland. We were delighted with the landslide 66% Yes vote to allow for abortion in Ireland. That was the culmination of years of work by NWCI in galvanising our member groups and other grass roots support through our role as one of the leading organisations in the Together For Yes Campaign.
We successfully brought the women’s healthcare conversation, and the need for compassion, to mainstream Ireland through our Everywoman Healthcare Model (a campaign for affordable, accessible healthcare options for women and girls in Ireland) and ‘Open Conversations’ (on the abortion referendum) around Ireland.
Similarly, through our network of young women’s groups, most notably the Students Union of Ireland, the voter turnout for women between the ages of 18 and 24 increased by 94 percent. Awareness from this demographic has major ramifications when it comes to participation, voting and representation of women in political, business and civic decision-making.
After a 12 month national grassroots pension campaign, in January 2018 we achieved a reinstatement of pension rights for women who took time out to care for family members after 1994.
Other key achievements include the Domestic Violence Bill, passed in May 2018, which includes many of our recommendations to prevent violence against women, supporting those affected and convicting those committing these crimes.
After a 12 month national grassroots pension campaign, in January 2018 we achieved a reinstatement of pension rights for women who took time out to care for family members after 1994. This was an important milestone and we will continue to campaign to ensure future pension legislation reflects the value of care work and enables pension equality.
NWCI also played an instrumental part in bringing about important changes in childcare subsidies for working families in 2016 ensuring that young women have the option to stay in employment and progress in their careers.
What are the key areas of focus for 2018?
Our primary goal over the next few months is to work with the government to implement the necessary abortion legislation and create the framework/support required for women to access abortion in Ireland. Similarly, we will be working on ensuring an appropriately funded health screening service for women.
We are looking to repeat the success of the 2016 gender quotas campaign for female TD candidates (political parties had to implement a 30 per cent gender quota for candidates or have their State funding cut by half) with similar campaigns at local election level and for women on boards (executive & operational level).
For the last 4 years, we have actively campaigned for quotas for women on boards here in Ireland. It is clear that both women and men are now asking for urgent measures to speed up female representation to ensure better business and better decision-making, as well as to attract talent and investment.
Our member groups propose motions and this influences our campaign work for the following 12 months.
Building on our FemFest work over the last 3 years with young women, we will continue our workshops which will culminate in a conference on female stereotypes, body image, mental health and women in leadership & decision-making.
What can a person expect from NWCI membership?
Our member groups propose motions and this influences our campaign work for the following 12 months. Similarly, we welcome individual members to our 5 annual member events, to support our Women’s Equality campaigns online and in the wider community. As we are a member organisation working on behalf of our members, we rely on funding from membership fees to carry this work out.
- Your voice represented when it comes to women’s health, economic and political equality
- Attend 5 events per year and meet politicians, journalists and other key influencers
- Meet like-minded women and men determined to pave the way for equality for generations to come
- Receive our regular newsflash & learn more about the latest equality issues
- Get 33% discount on room rental in NWCI
- We can provide you and women in Ireland a social media platform to share your inequality/equality experiences
Cost: €5 per month or €60 per year for Waged and €20 for Unwaged.
Group Membership – Women Work Networks & Other Groups
- Inform and shape NWCI policies which are the basis for our lobbying & campaigning
- Participate in our campaigns
- NWCI can promote your work/events: NWCI Website, Newsflash (11,000 subs), Twitter (25k followers)
- Vote at our Annual General Meeting (motions) & participate in Board elections
- 3 Nominees can attend our 5 annual events for free
- Network & Learn from like-minded organisations and people
- Show your solidarity and strengthen the wider women’s movement in Ireland
- FREE use of our Board Room Mon – Fri 9-5pm
Cost: Group Membership €150 for Funded groups and €30 for Non-Funded groups
Are there any events we should watch out for this year?
We are gearing up for NWCI’s Women Making History event on the morning of our Annual General Meeting on June 21st in the Spencer Hotel, Dublin. This is open to everyone, with a €15 entrance fee for non-members or free for Members. This will be a unique opportunity to reflect on this momentous vote and on the decade long campaign that led up to this significant achievement for women’s equality. Minister of Health, Simon Harris, will be speaking.
In the Autumn, we will be looking at events on gender quotas on boards and the Young Women’s FemFest workshops and conference. Check back to our website regularly for more!