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Who we are

Women’s Platform is a feminist organisation seeking to realise gender equality in Northern Ireland, in line with international human rights standards that the UK has ratified.

Our aim is a fair and equal society, where women have the rights, freedoms and capacity to engage fully with society, and where societal structures, attitudes and practices prevent discrimination and support the ability of everyone, including women and girls, to lead lives based on genuine choice, aptitude and personal preference. We also seek a peaceful and sustainable future for all, through implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.

Our work is based on feminist analysis of society and power that highlights the societal structures, systems and practices that perpetuate inequality and discrimination. We also employ intersectional analysis, which further underlines how different and overlapping characteristics and identities can lead to multiple and concurrent forms of discrimination.

Our focus is on:

  • Securing integration of international human rights standards, specifically CEDAW, in Northern Ireland legislation.
  • Ensuring effective implementation of international human rights standards in Northern Ireland, as a basic foundation for a rights based and equal society and a framework supporting the priorities of women and girls in Northern Ireland.
  • Contributing to securing evidence based policy based on meaningful, timely and effective engagement with all stakeholders including those with lived experience.
  • Dismantling intersectional discrimination through addressing social norms and promoting inclusive policy making, using tools including gender budgeting, rural needs assessment and intersectional policy analysis.
  • Promoting inclusive peacebuilding in line with the women, peace and security agenda, through seeking gender parity in public life and effective mechanisms for women to engage in policy and decision making at all levels of society.

We work with members including organisations across the women’s sector, as well as organisations representing migrants and LGBTQIA+ communities to ensure we can act as a platform for women and girls in all their diversity and build our work on local evidence and priorities. Our support to the sector focuses on sharing and building capacity across the sector in utilising international human rights standards and international good practice in their work.

Position on gender inclusion

Women’s Platform believes that exclusion of and discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people and groups constitutes a violation of human rights and goes directly against the principles of feminism.

It is also in breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which underpins the ethos of Women’s Platform and seeks equal rights for all. Women’s Platform are acutely aware of the intersecting inequalities that LGBTQIA+ people face, and in particular the specific and disproportionate violence and discrimination trans women are subjected to in society.

On this basis, Women’s Platform respects the right of everyone to self identify and determine their gender identity, and is open to everyone who identifies as female, as well as non binary and gender fluid people. Our information requirements are the same for all individuals, with no additional certification requirements.

We seek a rights based and equal future for people of all genders, and this is reflected in all our policy work. We work with LBT women and LGBTQIA+ organisations to ensure we are inclusive and our work appropriately and adequately reflects the views and priorities of LGBTQIA+ women and communities. Our aim is to act as an effective ally to LGBTQIA+ people and communities and support LGBTQIA+ rights through all our work.

Position on sexual and reproductive health and rights

Women’s Platform supports full sexual and reproductive health and rights for all women and girls.

All our work is based on international human rights standards and in particular the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women (CEDAW), which sets out access to full health care, including reproductive care, as a right for all women and girls, and also confirms the right of women to determine the number and spacing of children in a family. We are also cognisant of the joint position of CEDAW and the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, which emphasises that abortion is in line with principles of both Conventions.

Women’s Platform was instrumental in instigating the Inquiry under the Optional Protocol of CEDAW, which in 2018 found that the then abortion legislation in Northern Ireland was a grave violation of the human rights of women and girls.

Our work focuses on:

  • Securing the full implementation of the recommendations in the Inquiry report, as a clear roadmap to realising the full human rights of women and girls in Northern Ireland.
  • Supporting organisations focused on reproductive health and rights in their work to secure access to comprehensive, safe, legal and local reproductive healthcare services, including full implementation of safe access zones around clinics.
  • Seeking and promoting full implementation of CEDAW provisions on affordable childcare, equitable employment policies and adequate financial support for periods of maternity and parental leave, as a crucial basis for enabling all parents to make genuinely independent and informed decisions about their lives.

Position on prostitution

Women’s Platform is a member of the European Women’s Lobby, which as an abolitionist network requires all members to adopt an abolitionist stance to prostitution.

We believe that genuine gender equality is not possible, as long as bodies of people can be bought and sold, as this constitutes a form of patriarchal violence. We also believe, however, that many current responses to prostitution perpetuate such male violence against women and girls. This includes in particular criminalisation and stigmatisation of people in prostitution, lack of action on violence experienced by people in prostitution and lack of access to healthcare and support services.

Our work seeks to uphold the rights in CEDAW for all women and girls, including full access to all services, including specific services where those are required. Our aim is for all women and girls to have genuine choice about their lives, with the societal structures to enable this in place. We also focus on dismantling gender stereotypes, which includes challenging discriminatory and stigmatising portrayal and treatment of all women and girls.

Position on peacebuilding and women in public life

Women’s Platform played a key role in bringing knowledge of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 to Northern Ireland, and advocates for the implementation of the principles of the Resolution in Northern Ireland.

We also advocate for and support implementation of a domestic element in both the UK and Ireland National Action Plans on women, peace and security, focusing on securing a strengthened voice for women and girls in Northern Ireland in all policy and decision making affecting Northern Ireland, and resourced action plans building on local priorities and engaging local expertise.

We seek gender parity in all areas of life, and in particular in public life and decision making. Women’s contribution is essential in all spheres of policy and decision making, to ensure women’s needs and priorities are considered in decision making, and to enable the full range of skills and capacities to be engaged in developing a sustainable future.

We support the use of gender quotas to accelerate gender parity in elected office and on the boards of public bodies and companies. There is conclusive evidence that the use of quotas is effective and also increases competency of the organisation.

We do not hold and will not take any position on the constitutional position of Northern Ireland. We believe that the needs and priorities of women need to be meaningfully met through gender responsive, rights based and data driven policy and decision making, and this in all situations requires societal and administrative structures that prioritise equality and evidence based delivery, with gender parity in decision making. This will always remain our focus and our goal.

Position on violence against women and girls

Violence against women and girls is normalised in our society, and this is the ultimate result of patriarchal norms pervading cultural beliefs, attitudes and practices, resulting in a misogynistic society.

Women’s Platform believes that creating a society genuinely safe for women and girls requires action on multiple levels, from ensuring adequately resourced, inclusive protection and support systems for victims/survivors, including effective judicial remedies,  enforcement against perpetrators and supportive employment laws and policies, to prevention through information and education, and challenging patriarchy and misogyny as social norms.

Our work focuses on securing:

  • Legislation on misogyny as a hate crime
  • Effective implementation of domestic abuse legislation, including domestic leave legislation
  • Resourced strategies on violence against women and girls, building on international standards and local evidence, working in support of organisations specialised in violence against women and girls, sexual violence and domestic abuse
  • Resourced refuge and support services for victims and survivors of men’s violence against women and girls
  • Improved capacity and understanding of the dynamics of violence against women and girls across the judicial system
  • Improved protection of and support for victims of online violence, including women in public office
  • Mandatory, age appropriate and inclusive relationship and sexuality education in schools to support young people understand healthy relationships and challenge misogyny as well as cisgender norms