Equality

In my Seanad and Committee work, I have advocated for decent work and investment in care.

Drawing on my experience with the National Women’s Council, I challenged pay and pension inequality and helped introduce new laws on coercive control. I also supported progressive legislation on disability, migrant, Traveller and LGBTQI+ rights. I campaigned for Repeal since 1992 and in the Referendum. I am a strong voice for equality in social and economic policy.

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Senator Alice-Mary Higgins welcomes “powerful and positive” US decision to support a TRIPS waiver on Covid 19 vaccines at WTO negotiations.

“EU Commission will have no excuse and no cover if they continue to block urgent global scale-up in vaccine production”

A temporary suspension of Intellectual property rights to allow increased global production of vaccines has been proposed by over 60 countries at the WTO but had until now been blocked by a small group of wealthier countries including the US and EU.

On International Data Protection Day 2021, Senator Higgins calls for new Data Awareness and Digital Empowerment Fund

On International Data Protection Day 2021, Independent Senator Alice-Mary Higgins has called for establishment of a new Data Awareness and Digital Empowerment Fund, to include money ringfenced from GDPR fines.

Senator Higgins said:  “The strengthening in Data Protection we have seen in recent years is as much about transparency and control as it is about privacy. Laws such as GDPR give individuals greater access to their own personal data and a say in how it is used.  At its best this goes beyond protection to empowerment.

Senator Higgins joins Oireachtas colleagues in calling for more effective health and safety protocols

As we enter Phase One and the reopening of certain sectors, the safety of society and workers has to remain paramount. I have joined  Joan Collins T.D, Senator Lynn Ruane and number of other Oireachtas colleagues, in supporting proposals put forward by Unite and other unions to ensure that health and safety protocols in the workplace are effective and enforced and that that trade unions have an active role in monitoring worker safety. 

We called on the Government to update the Return to Work Safety Protocol document and give inspectors the resources to conduct unannounced health and safety inspections of sites and issue on the spot fines. I have personally highlighted the need for more robust inspections on building sites where, as we heard in the Employment and Social Protection Committee last year, there is an excessive reliance on false or pressured ‘self-employment'. 

 

Senator Higgins joins EPF colleagues in calling on governments to ensure sexual and reproductive rights are protected during the COVID-19 emergency

Even during a crisis, women have sexual and reproductive healthcare needs which cannot wait. Governments should be supporting access to essential SRHR services - unfortunately some are actively using this as a chance to block it. As a member of the the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, I have been pressing governments across Europe to actively support access to SHRR in their own countries and across the wider world. Last week we produced a report on ’Sexual and Reproductive Rights during the COVID-19 pandemic’ which described how many women and girls are being left without essential medical services such as contraception and abortion care, HIV and STI testing, reproductive cancer screenings, and adequate pre and post-natal healthcare.

An IPPF survey showed 5.633 community-based care clinics closing across 64 countries, with African countries being the most heavily impacted. EU member states should be giving humanitarian and health support and including SHRR. In terms of particularly time-sensitive healthcare such as abortion, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Portugal have made provisions for remote support of medical abortions, while Poland and Romania seem to be using this crisis to undermine women’s access to rights and reproductive healthcare.

Amid this crisis we have also seen a huge increase in sexual and gender-based violence, an issue that all governments must address head on.