We are writing to you in partnership with National Alliance of Women Organisation, Engender and Wales women to ask you for your involvement in the consultation or discussion which we believe is very important for the women’s sector in Northern Ireland and across the UK at this time.
You will know that the Women’s National Commission (NWC) was abolished at the end of last year. You may also know that the Government Equalities Office (GEO) is consulting on how, post-WNC, Government can best engage with women. Here is a link to the consultation Strengthening Women’s Voices
Listening to women was one of the key roles of WNC and they did important work in relation to public appointments, women and the economy, black and minority ethnic women, violence against women. They also fulfilled central functions in preparing the UK shadow report to CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women). You can see more of this in their legacy document which shows the steps they had taken to make their work really relevant to all of the UK, including the devolved nations, by working on a four nations basis.
NIWEP believes that the current GEO consultation should hear women’s voices clearly on two matters:
- how women across the UK see themselves organising
- what we want to see GEO doing to listen to women
We are planning a number of events to help and to make sure these matters are reflected in the response to the consultation. We therefore are asking you for your thoughts on the plan of action and for your involvement in it.
- some meetings and discussions have already taken place amongst women’s groups, inclosing the former WNC partners. NIWEP will bring together a synopsis of the views from these discussions
- there are various relationships which exist between women’s groups and Government (that is, with GEO and with OFMDFM) and within Government so NIWEP will map these, as far as we can go, so we can begin to see what there is to build on
- we will develop a means, with your advice, to have ongoing discussions, maybe through a blog or an email link
- we will hold discussions with groups and networks
- we will hold a world café discussion in Cookstown
- we will bring all the Northern Ireland views to a roundtable hosted by the UKJCW (UK Joint Committee on Women) to be held in Cardiff on the 7 May – parallel work is taking place in England, Scotland and Wales through their networks of women
- the UKJCW will then publish the principles, ideas and requests so we can use the consultation in responding to the GEO
In the meantime, the UKJCW as well as NIWEP has been invited to a GEO meeting in London on 12 April which is a follow-up to CSW held in February of this year, but it is also going to discuss what is happening post-WNC. NIWEP, as part of the ULJCW, is preparing a series of questions – probably questions rather than a position at this stage – to set out concerns and interests from across the UK.
We hope you will be involved and look forward to working with you on these issues.