Women’s Health and Rights
In November, I joined 200 Parliamentarians and 9,000 advocates, health experts, youth activists and community representatives from around the world at a giant global meeting on women’s health and rights. The Nairobi Summit marked 25 years of ICPD, the International Convention on Population and Development, and brought together diverse voices with a shared commitment to ensuring safe access to sexual and reproductive health and rights for everyone, everywhere. Topics discussed included family planning, maternal mortality, universal healthcare, FGM and violence against women.
Having first marched for Repeal in 1992 and played an active role in the Repeal the 8th Coalition and Together for Yes campaign, I believe it is important that Ireland now offers international solidarity to civil society and parliamentarians across the world who are trying to introduce more progressive access to reproductive rights. The recent changes in Northern Ireland are to be welcomed but women still face obstacles in many countries.
I was honoured to be elected to the Executive of the European Parliamentary Forum (EPF) on Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights and have worked actively with them to promote positive policies and challenge recent rollbacks on women’s rights. At the Nairobi Summit I was pleased to help launch a new, even wider, global initiative: the Global Parliamentary Alliance for Health, Rights and Development (GPA) which will allow parliamentarians from around the world to support each other by working for human rights, better health care and gender equality with a strong focus on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Here in Ireland, I am working with others to improve access to family planning and school sex and relationship education. I have also, for many years, fought for better supports for those parenting alone. In October, I won an amendment to the Social Welfare Bill to review the anomaly whereby targeted supports for working lone parents end when their child turns 14, an age where costs often increase.