Women's Rights


I have a long-standing record of campaigning on women’s rights issues as a Feminist activist. In 1989-90, as President of Trinity Students’ Union, I was taken to court along with fellow SU officers. We were threatened with prison by anti-abortion activists for providing information on abortion to women with crisis pregnancies, in an important case that paved the way for legal change to legalise the provision of information on abortion to women with crisis pregnancies.

Since then, for many years I have been involved in a range of different women’s rights and equality campaigns.

I have campaigned on issues such as childcare rights, abortion rights, paid paternity leave, educational equality, the separation of church and state, the introduction of paid paternity leave.

In my capacity as a member of the Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality, I have worked hard on a range of campaigns such as these.

Among the initiatives I have taken as a Senator are:

An ‘Oireachtas Women’ day in December 2008 to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the 1918 election in which women first had the right to vote;

A Report on women’s participation in politics which I wrote for the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice in 2009, and which paved the way for the adoption of gender quota legislation in 2012 - the Electoral (Amendment)(Political Funding) Act 2012, which will require political parties to select at least 30% of their candidates of each gender for the General Election in 2016 and to adopt similar selection quotas for all subsequent general elections, rising eventually to a 40% minimum for each gender.

A Bill to prohibit Female Genital Mutilation, which was accepted by the Government in 2010 and became law finally in 2012.

I played a very active role in the debate on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, which aimed to clarified the law on when doctors may terminate pregnancy in order to save women’s lives. I will continue to campaign for repeal of the Eighth Amendment and the introduction of genuinely pro-choice abortion legislation and am proud to have been the rapporteur for the Labour Women Commission and Report outlining legislation post a repeal of the 8th amendment. Here is the link to that report.  http://www.labour.ie/download/pdf/labour_women_8th_amendment_report_copy.pdf 

You will see more detail about my work on these and a range of other women’s rights campaigns and initiatives elsewhere on this website.

Recent Women's Rights Blog Entries

  • Students’ unions should stand firm on abortion

    Almost 30 years ago, I was threatened with prison by SPUC (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children). It was September 1989. I was president of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU), and SPUC were seeking to imprison our four TCDSU sabbatical officers for providing information on abortion in our students’ union handbooks during Freshers’ Week.

    A few years previously, the 1983 Eighth Amendment had been passed, equating the lives of “mother” and “unborn”.

  • NERI report shows a living wage is key to tackling gender pay gap

    A study by the Nevin Economic Research Institute has shown that almost three quarters of people earning the minimum wage in Ireland are women.

    The disproportionately high number of women earning the minimum wage clearly demonstrates the need to introduce a living wage to help tackle the gender pay gap.

    This government has completely taken its eye of the ball when it comes to improving pay and conditions for low paid workers. It is extremely disappointing there is no commitment in the programme for government to introduce a living wage.

  • Calling for urgent action on UN Human Rights Committee Ruling on Abortion

    Speaking this morning in the Seanad, Senator Ivana Bacik called for an urgent response from the Taoiseach and the Government to the ruling last week by the UN Human Rights Committee that Ireland had breached the rights of the applicant Amanda Mellet due to the prohibition in Irish law of termination of pregnancy under the Eighth Amendment, even in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

    Commending Amanda Mellet and the Termination for Medical Reasons group for their courage in taking their application to the UN and in raising the issue of fatal foetal abnormality, Senator Bacik said:

Click here to view all posts»