A feminist future

NIWEP is continuing to work as normally as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. Work is focusing on supporting a gender sensitive response in Northern Ireland, in particular by sharing evidence and examples of relevant initiatives and models from the UN, European Women's Lobby and NIWEP's sister organisations in England, Scotland and Wales. NIWEP has launched a weekly newsletter on COVID-19 and gender, and is running a webinar series exploring a feminist recovery from COVID-19. NIWEP also submitted evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee in Westminster on gender and COVID-19. 


NIWEP webinar series: A feminist future - leaving no one behind 

This webinar series looks at what a feminist future would look like and how it could be achieve, in the current context including response to COVID-19, Brexit and global issues including climate justice. The series will share learning and perspectives from across the UK and Ireland and beyond, but will focus on informing and supporting a Northern Ireland  response. The crisis has shown new responses are possible, and our voices are more important than ever.


Session 4: The B word: What next for rights and equality?

Brexit has happened, but the future arrangements are far from clear. This looked at the current position from the perspective of women and gender equality, and aims to focus on how rights and gender equality can be safeguarded, and if possible strengthened, in the future context. Speakers included Dr Rachel Minto from Cardiff University, Louise Coyle from NI Rural Women's Network and Tara Farrell from Longford Women's Link. Speakers at the webinar emphasised that post Brexit arrangements are likely to have impacts for women, from very concrete impacts in daily life for women in border regions to access to comparative data to underpin policy making. It was also stressed that women's voices have not been heard, and that both supporting and upskilling women to get involved in public life and advocating for women's voices needs to be a key area of focus for the future. The overall message was that it is possible to safeguard gender equality and human rights, but it will require focused and shared action over the long term. 

A summary paper is available from the session. 

Session 3: Leadership for new economic realities 

Session 3 focused on institutional mechanisms, leadership and tools for a feminist economic recovery. This webinar featured contributions from Mary-Ann Stephenson from Women's Budget Group and Dr Angela O'Hagan from Glasgow Caledonian University, and explored in particular gender budgeting and equality impact assessment as tools that can inform gender responsive, evidence based policy making. Speakers emphasised a care economy as a core priority for a feminist recovery from COVID-19, and outlined work undertaken to document the economic contribution of care and a gendered approach to the economy. Speakers also noted that equality impact assessment must be integrated in policy development from its earliest stages, and that a broader understanding of the economy is required to move forward from the traditional views of men's and women's work that underlie structural inequalities

A summary paper is available from the session. 


Session 2: Caring for the future

This session built on care as a priority issue, and looked in more detail at care and a care economy as the basis for a sustainable, gender sensitive economic model. The webinar featured contributions from Mary Collins, European Women's Lobby, Prof Ann Marie Gray from Ulster University and Rachel Cable from Oxfam Cymru

The webinar focused on the central role care plays in society and the need to revalue care, and identified a number of approaches to ensure a care economy is more central in future economic models. Proposals included a tax funded national care service, a care deal focusing on action across sectors and measures beyond GDP to demonstrate the economic and social value of care. Speakers stressed that there is now public support for change and that change is possible, if action is taken quickly. 

A summary paper is available from this session as well. 


Session 1: Where are the women?

This session was designed to set the scene for the webinar series and the context for a feminist recovery from COVID-19. It explored the current impact of COVID-19 on women and the women’s sector response, and also highlighted emerging responses and priorities for the recovery. The webinar featured contributions from Joanna Maycock, Secretary General of the European Women's Lobby; Emma Ritch, Director of Engender and Emma Osborne, Membership Services at Women's Aid Federation Northern Ireland

The session highlighted that the COVID-19 crisis has emphasised existing inequalities and explored solutions identified at European, Scottish and Northern Ireland level. While significant challenges were identified, the overall message was optimistic: it is time for change and the sector is ready to lead it.

A summary paper is available from the session.