What We Do
Women’s Platform builds capacity on international human rights standards at the local level. This involves open webinars and training sessions, as well as more tailored training programmes. We also share information, learning and good practice from the UN and other international mechanisms and networks with members and partners through newsletters, briefings and webinars. We are building our own capacity for information sharing to strengthen services to members and partners.
Women’s Platform coordinates the Northern Ireland civil society response to UN international human rights processes, in particular the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). We develop the Northern Ireland shadow report, and work with members and partners to collate evidence from the sector and from women and girls across Northern Ireland. We also work with sister organisations in England, Scotland and Wales to develop a four nations shadow report, and represent Northern Ireland at the examination of the UK under CEDAW. We have a long track record of highlighting a Northern Ireland perspective with the CEDAW Committee and have successfully secured recommendations relevant to Northern Ireland, alongside national human rights institutions.
Women’s Platform also advocates locally for implementation of CEDAW recommendations and the state’s international obligations through Northern Ireland legislation and policy. We engage with policy and decision makers to highlight these obligations in international law, and build capacity on CEDAW and other international mechanisms for gender equality and women’s rights.
Women’s Platform provides a platform for women and girls in Northern Ireland to engage with CSW, the UN Commission on the Status of Women. CSW is the UN intergovernmental body that sets UN policy direction on gender and gender equality, and monitors implementation of the Beijing Declaration for Action as well as the gender element of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Women’s Platform coordinates a Northern Ireland civil society delegation to CSW, as an NGO in consultative status with the UN. The focus of this delegation, open to all members and the wider women’s sector in Northern Ireland, is to provide an opportunity for delegates to participate in UN led events and engage with women’s sector organisations from across the world. Women’s Platform provides training to delegates before each CSW conference, and supports the delegation during CSW with both practical arrangements and sharing information from side events. The format of CSW is evolving in the context of Covid-19 from an in person conference to a hybrid with more virtual opportunities, which also widens opportunities for engaging with sister organisations internationally.
Women’s Platform was instrumental in introducing the concept of women, peace and security and UN Security Council Resolution 1325 to Northern Ireland. UNSCR 1325 is a landmark resolution issued in October 2000, which recognises for the first time that conflict has different impacts for women than men, and states that women must be fully and equally involved in decision making throughout the peace building process.
Women’s Platform integrates the principles of UNSCR 1325 in all our work. The core focus for Women’s Platform is women’s leadership and participation in decision making, and all our work is designed to support gender parity in decision making. Our capacity building programmes are a key part of this and aim to equip women and women’s groups with the knowledge, skills and confidence to utilise international human rights standards in their work and advocacy. We also advocate for implementation of the principles of UNSCR 1325 in Northern Ireland, across policy areas.
Women’s Platform acts as the secretariat for the Northern Ireland Assembly All Party Group on UNSCR 1325, Women, Peace and Security and was instrumental in setting it up in the 2011-15 mandate. The focus of the APG is to promote the role of women in public life, but it has in recent times also taken a strong role in advocating for women’s needs to be at the heart of the Covid response and recovery. This has included Assembly Questions to Ministers, engaging with the women’s sector to gather evidence and engaging with officials to highlight the international and domestic obligations to take a more gender responsive policy making.
Our role as secretariat is to create a platform for the women’s sector to engage with policy and decision makers, and build the capacity of elected representatives to engage with local issues as well as international human rights frameworks.
Our capacity building programmes aim to build and share knowledge on international human rights standards. They are intended to make these high level frameworks accessible and help demonstrate how international standards and frameworks can support advocacy for gender equality in Northern Ireland. We focus our capacity building on CEDAW, CSW and UNSCR 1325, and also organise webinars and events sharing international good practice and learning on key issues for the sector.
Our capacity building is above all focused on building the confidence, skills and knowledge of women and women’s groups to engage in policy making and using international standards to amplify their own asks. Our current focus is to embed intersectional practice and diversity across our work, and we are working with women and girls currently less engaged with our work to develop approaches and tools that enable women and girls in all their diversity to engage with Women’s Platform.
We also work with policy and decision makers to build their understanding of international standards and how they relate to policy making and service delivery in Northern Ireland. This includes contributing to legislative and policy development processes, as well as more specific capacity building.