25 Mar

Irish Collective Complaint on Appalling Housing Conditions Deemed Admissible by European Committee of Social Rights

A landmark collective complaint against Ireland, which outlines appalling and widespread sub-standard housing issues across 20 Local Authority housing estates, has been deemed admissible for further investigation at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg  (Decision by the European Committee of Social Rights adopted on Tuesday 17 March 2015).

Tenants of Local Authority housing estates were assisted in compiling the collective complaint by Community Action Network (CAN), The Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy at National University Ireland Galway, Ballymun Community Law Centre, Dr. Rory Hearne of the Geography Department at National University Ireland Maynooth and the Irish Traveller Movement (ITM).

The complaint had been lodged in July 2014 by FIDH in collaboration with its associated member in Ireland FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres).

The collective complaint – the result of five years of evidence gathering across the 20 communities facilitated by the Irish group Community Action Network (CAN) – alleges that Irish law, policy and practices on Local Authority housing do not comply with European standards , including standards relating to housing, social protection and anti-discrimination.

It states that poor conditions and other issues on housing estates violate key articles of the Revised European Social Charter, to which Ireland signed up in 2000, including the right to health, the right of families and children to have social, legal and economic protection and the right to protection against poverty and social exclusion.

Click here for the full text of the Press Release
Click here for RTé Morning Ireland report
Click here for Irish Times article

  
15 Mar

“Let’s put Human Rights in our Manifestos!” – ATD Ireland’s new campaign

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In March 2015 ATD launched the project “Let’s put Human Rights in our Manifestos”. From March 2015 to June 2015, ATD volunteers and community groups from the North Inner City will look at what Economic, Social and Cultural Rights mean today and will discuss the request of Irish Constitutional Convention to strengthen the protection of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the Irish Constitution.

The Housing crisis, the Right 2 Water demonstrations, the Constitutional Convention recommendation from 23rd February 2014 to include Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the Irish Constitution are converging issues. They tell us it is the right time to have genuine conversations at community level on Human Rights.

In 2015, pre-election year, the project “Let’s put Human Rights on our Manifestos” is part of the mobilisation of the Irish Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Initiative*. This coalition of NGOs calls on the Government to accept the recommendation of the Constitutional Convention and to prepare a referendum allowing the citizens to decide whether in the future, the Irish State should be obliged to make decisions that prioritise the fundamental dignity of people.

Between March and June 2015, ATD will organise workshops with 5 or 6 local groups (at least twice an hour and half sessions for each group). Workshops will be organised in peer support groups, early school leavers training centres and adult education projects.

The project will be concluded with a plenary meeting gathering all participants and with the design of an advocacy booklet which will invite political parties to include the ESC Rights Recommendation of the Constitutional Convention in their pre-election 2016 Manifestos.

To volunteer for this project, contact: volunteering@atdireland.ie

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The United Nation Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights adopted in 2012 will be a reference document for the workshops.

The GPs are the first internationally agreed text to stress that not only poverty, but also extreme poverty exists in every country in the world, and it is both a cause and a consequence of multiple human rights violations. The guidelines firmly anchor the struggle to end poverty in the framework of respect for human rights. Following their adoption in 2012, the task is now to disseminate and promote them, from grassroots to Government level, and to have them put into action.

The ATD project “Let’s put Human Rights in our Manifestos” is supported by IMPACT‘s Joe Lucey Small Grants Fund.


*The Economic, Social and Cultural (ESC) Rights Initiative is a network of organisations and individuals with a shared belief that strengthening the protection of ESC rights would play a fundamental role in the creation of a more just, inclusive and socially sustainable society. The aim of the Initiative is to ensure that ESC rights are made legally enforceable in the Constitution. Members of the Initiative are among others: Age Action, Aiden Lloyd, Amnesty International Ireland, All Together in Dignity Ireland, Children Rights Alliance, Community Action Network, Equality and Rights Alliance, Free Legal Aid Centres (FLAC), Focus Ireland, Irish Heart Foundation, Mercy Law Centre, Community Law and Mediation, Pavee Point, Peter McVerry Trust.

  
03 Mar

Marking together International Women’s Day, Preparing together the post 2015 agenda

As people across the globe celebrate International Women’s Day (8 March), United Nations member states are in discussions that could prove to be the most important negotiations for women in history, according to the global citizens’ movement action/2015.

Two unique political processes – one that will lead to the adoption later this year of the Sustainable Development Goals and another that is expected to endorse the first climate treaty in a generation – offer an unprecedented opportunity to dramatically transform the lives of women and girls and fulfill their human rights.

The UN Summit for the adoption of the Post-2015 development agenda – a framework that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals which expire at the end of this year – will take place in New York from 28-30 September.  The United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP 21, will take place in Paris from 30 November – 11 December with the goal of adopting a universal climate agreement, the first since Kyoto in 1992, to limit greenhouse gases.  Heads of state are expected to participate in both summits.

Some of the advances that could be agreed to this year at these summits include a commitment to zero tolerance to violence against women, the repeal of discriminatory gender laws, ending child marriage,committing to gender equality and ensuring that the 31 million girls of primary school age who are not in school receive an education.

Ana Alcalde, an action/2015 activist in Spain who is also director of Alianza por la Solidaridad, notes that 2015 is a pivotal year for women and girls: “We have to urge world leaders to take serious action for women in 2015. The Sustainable Development Goals and the climate negotiations are a unique opportunities to make women’s human rights a reality by 2030. It can be one of the defining legacies of our generation and the culmination of more than 150 years of history of struggle and empowerment within the women’s movement.”

The action/2015 coalition is calling on world leaders to deliver ambitious agreements that fulfil women’s rights not only as an issue of justice but also as the key strategy to tackle poverty, inequalities and climate change at two pivotal summits in 2015. If ambitious agreements are made and kept, they could transform the lives of billions of women and girls.

Pierre Klein from ATD Ireland said: “Never has a single year offered so much. Irish Government, with its leader position in the preparation of the post 2015 agenda has the chance to commit to a future where everyone is lifted from extreme poverty, where women and girls achieve equality, where we save our planet from the worst effects of climate change. We have to seize this opportunity to ensure that we advance the most forward thinking agenda for women and girls and for boys and men, everywhere.”

Ambitious agreements at the UN summit to adopt Sustainable Development Goals and a global climate treaty could potentially deliver transformative changes for women and girls, such as:

  •     Repealing and rewriting discriminatory laws that prevent women in every corner of the globe from enjoying their civil and economic rights.
  •     Providing convenient access to clean drinking water and safe toilets, which would save women and girls, on an annual basis, nearly 150 billion hours that are currently spent collecting water and finding private areas to defecate.
  •     Ending child marriage, which would transform the lives of 15 million girls every year who are married before the age of 18.
  •     Increasing girls’ future incomes. For every extra year of education received by the 31 million girls of primary school age who are out of school, their future wages can increase by 20%.
  •     Saving lives. If all girls completed their primary education, 189,000 women’s lives that are currently lost during pregnancy and childbirth would be saved. Ending the under-nutrition of women and girls during pregnancy would help to save the lives of an additional 800,000 new-born babies every year.
  •     Providing access to the same productive resources as men. This could increase women’s farm yields by nearly a third and raise total agricultural output in developing countries by as much as 4%.
  •     Ensuring healthy lives for all at all ages which could help end the cycle which sees a young woman infected with HIV every minute.
  •     Eliminating violence against women and girls. Currently, up to 70 percent cent of women experience violence in their lifetime.Violence against women is one of the biggest contributors to ill health and premature death amongst women aged 15-44. Every year 2 million girls between the ages of 5 and 15 are coerced, abducted, sold or trafficked into the illegal sex market.
  •     Stopping female genital mutilation, which affects 3 million girls each year
  •     Giving women greater control of additional income, which would increase family spending on food, health, clothing and education for children.
  •     Addressing the massive under-representation of women in political decision making. Currently just over one in five parliamentarians, 17% of ministers and just 15 of 193 heads of government are women.
  •     Closing the 40% global gender gap for economic participation and opportunity by introducing policies and legislation to promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.
  •     Endingthedeaths of 23,100 womenwho die everyyeardue to unsafeabortions and more than 5 millionwho are severelyinjured, thevastmajority in countrieswhereaccess to safeabortionispenalisedorrestrictedbylaw.
  •     Over 60 countries could change their laws to offer women equal rights with men to acquire, change or retain their nationality.
  •     Reducing carbon emissions that contribute to weather calamities. Natural disasters kill on average more women than men, according to a 2014 World Health Organization report; this effect is most pronounced in places where the economic and social status of woman and girls is lowest.

The UN summits to adopt Sustainable Development Goals and a global climate treaty come the same year as the milestone 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration commitments to advance women’s human rights and empowerment.  These summits offer a once in a generation opportunity to translate these commitments into real and tangible action.

About the Women’s Action Team of Action/2015

The Women’s Action Team is a campaign group within Action2015, composed of Women’s organizations, activists, NGOs and movements from different countries who aim at encouraging women groups to help shape and lead the campaign in order to ensure Women’s Rights are at the heart of the Action/2015.