A number of major human rights and equality issues affecting women in Donegal are being sent to the United Nations for review next week.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission published a report scrutinising Irish women’s rights and equality which highlighted a number of areas of discrimination against women.

Donegal women shared their views at one of four regional consultation meetings across Ireland in 2016. Many local women’s issues have been referred to in the report published today.

While there have been many positive developments in achieving equal rights for women, several areas of discrimination remain. The gender pay gap of 14%, and gender pension gap of 38% remain to be addressed. Between 2008 and 2014, government funding to women’s organisations was cut by 48.7%.

Mental health

Women raised issues relating to gender-specific mental health at the Letterkenny meeting:

“In particular, the national mental health policy, A Vision for Change, does not adequately address gender-specific aspects of mental health such as the impact of gender-based violence, postnatal and peri-natal wellbeing, childcare needs during treatment and fear of children being taken into care after seeking help,” the report said.


Donegal women living in rural areas and close to the border expressed worries about their further isolation in light of Brexit, the report said. Many of the rural women who participated in the Commission’s consultations spoke about the impact of rural isolation and social exclusion on the realisation of their rights.

Domestic violence victims seeking refuge

The consultation meetings addressed issues of victims of domestic violence in accessing accommodation. In 2016, it was reported that women are now living in refuges for up to 18 months due to a number of factors, including lack of supply in the Irish housing market.

There have been 4,831 unmet requests for emergency accommodation across the country. Service providers in Donegal echoed this experience. You can find out more about the crisis faced by the Donegal Women’s Domestic Violence Service here on DW.


The report made recommendations to address shortcomings in maternity services, referring to reports of an over-medicalised model of childbirth and poor breastfeeding support in Irish hospitals and communities. The Commission is concerned that Ireland has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Europe. One Traveller woman in Letterkenny was quoted in relation to the issue:

Report: Ireland and the Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination Against Women

The Commission urged the State to strengthen its efforts to promote breastfeeding. Measures for the Traveller community should be included in particular, it said.


Traveller women at the Letterkenny meeting also highlighted issues faced by women and girls accessing education, citing obstacles in their way to school admissions.

What will happen next?

The findings and recommendations from this report on areas such as workplace discrimination, equal representation, gender based violence, threats to marginalised groups of women, and access to justice will be presented to a key United Nations committee in Geneva by the Commission on February 15th. The report will inform a UN review of Ireland’s compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

This will be the first time in over a decade Ireland has been scrutinised on its compliance with UN standards on protecting women and girls from discrimination.

You can read the submission in full here: www.ihrec.ie