Women's Rights


I have a long-standing record of campaigning on women’s rights issues as a Feminist activist. In 1989-90, as President of Trinity Students’ Union, I was taken to court along with fellow SU officers. We were threatened with prison by anti-abortion activists for providing information on abortion to women with crisis pregnancies, in an important case that paved the way for legal change to legalise the provision of information on abortion to women with crisis pregnancies.

Since then, for many years I have been involved in a range of different women’s rights and equality campaigns.

I have campaigned on issues such as childcare rights, abortion rights, paid paternity leave, educational equality, the separation of church and state, the introduction of paid paternity leave.

In my capacity as a member of the Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality betweeen 2007-2016, I  worked hard on a range of campaigns such as these.

Among the initiatives I have taken as a Senator are:

An ‘Oireachtas Women’ day in December 2008 to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the 1918 election in which women first had the right to vote;

A Report on women’s participation in politics which I wrote for the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice in 2009, and which paved the way for the adoption of gender quota legislation in 2012 - the Electoral (Amendment)(Political Funding) Act 2012, which requires political parties to select at least 30% of their candidates of each gender for each General Election, rising  to a 40% minimum for each gender from 2023.

A Bill to prohibit Female Genital Mutilation, which was accepted by the Government in 2010 and became law finally in 2012.

I chaired the Votail100 Oireachtas Committee organising a programme of events to mark the centenary of women's suffrage in Ireland in 2018.

I campaigned over three decades for repeal of the Eighth Amendment and the introduction of genuinely pro-choice abortion legislation and am proud to have been a member of the National Executive of the Together for Yes campaign which achieved a 66.4% vote in favour of Repeal of the Eighth Amendment in May 2018; I subsequently was one of the leading speakers in the Seanad debates on the abortion legislation passed in late 2018; and am working now on legislation to ensure safe access zones for women seeking abortion.

I introduced the first gender pay gap legislation and am working to secure its passage into law - it is currently before the Dail.

You will see more detail about my work on these and a range of other women’s rights campaigns and initiatives elsewhere on this website.

Recent Women's Rights Blog Entries

  • Order of Business: Cyclists, Dress for Success

    [smPullExtract inputText=%3Ch4%3E%3Ca%20href%3D%22https%3A//www.oireachtas.ie/en/members/member/Ivana-Bacik.S.2007-07-23/%22%3ESenator%20Ivana%20Bacik%3C/a%3E%3C/h4%3E%3Cp%20id%3D%22para_157%22%3EI%20support%20the%20amendment%20proposed%20by%20my%20colleague%2C%20Senator%20%C3%93%20R%C3%ADord%C3%A1in%2C%20to%20substitute%20a%20debate%20on%20crime%20for%20one%20hour%20of%20the%20debate%20on%20the%20Judicial%20Appointments%20Commission%20Bill.%20I%20also%20support%20Senator%20Leyden%27s%20amendment%2C%20which%20would%20substitute%20a%20debate%20on%20the%20important%20issue%20of%20Cuisle%20for%20the%20other%20hour%20and%20a%20half%20of%20debate%20on%20the%20Judicial%20Appointments%20Commission%20Bill.%20Both%20are%20hugely%20important%20issues%20and%20are%20far%20more%20urgent%20than%20the%20ongoing%20debate%20on%20Report%20Stage%20of%20the%20Bill.%20My%20group%20and%20I%20will%20certainly%20support%20both%20amendments.%20I%20thank%20the%20Leas-Chathaoirleach%20for%20his%20excellent-----%3C/p%3E%3Cp%20id%3D%22para_164%22%3EI%20thank%20the%20Leas-Chathaoirleach%20for%20his%20clarification%20of%20the%20issue.%20I%20also%20support%20what%20Senator%20Ardagh%20said%20in%20respect%20of%20cycling.%20As%20somebody%20who%20cycled%20in%20today%20and%20yesterday%20and%20who%20cycles%20regularly%20or%20every%20day%2C%20the%20roads%20were%20very%20clear%20because%20of%20the%20farmers%27%20protests.%3C/p%3E%3Cp%20id%3D%22para_166%22%3EWe%20do%2C%20however%2C%20need%20to%20make%20more%20provision%20for%20cyclists%2C%20as%20I%20said%20in%20my%20contribution%20on%20the%20Finance%20Bill%202019%20last%20night.%20I%20commend%20Senator%20Hackett%20on%20her%20excellent%20speech%20in%20response%20to%20the%20farmers%27%20protest.%20I%20understand%20it%20is%20in%20the%20process%20of%20being%20resolved%2C%20which%20is%20welcome%20because%20the%20farmers%27%20group%20is%20raising%20serious%20issues.%20Senator%20Hackett%20is%20correct%20when%20she%20speaks%20about%20the%20future%20of%20sustainable%20farming%20in%20Ireland.%20I%20spoke%20about%20an%20excellent%20model%20during%20the%20Finance%20Bill%20debate%20last%20night%2C%20that%20of%20the%20Burren%20Beo%20Trust%20and%20the%20work%20being%20done%20in%20the%20Burren%20by%20Mr.%20Brendan%20Dunford%20and%20his%20colleagues%20on%20sustainable%20farming.%20That%20is%20the%20future.%3C/p%3E%3Cp%20id%3D%22para_167%22%3EI%20commend%20the%20Dress%20for%20Success%20organisation%20and%20the%20organisers%20of%20the%20great%20conference%20being%20held%20today.%20I%20had%20the%20pleasure%20of%20attending%20this%20morning%20where%20An%20Taoiseach%20announced%20that%20the%20Citizens%27%20Assembly%20on%20Gender%20Equality%20will%20have%20its%20inaugural%20meeting%20on%2025%20January%202020%20when%20it%20will%20look%20at%20issues%20around%20the%20serious%20and%20ongoing%20gender%20pay%20gap%20between%20women%20and%20men%20and%20issues%20in%20respect%20of%20ensuring%20women%27s%20equal%20participation%20in%20the%20workforce.%20The%20conference%20will%20be%20hearing%20about%20the%20importance%20of%20childcare%2C%20expanded%20parental%20and%20paternity%20leave%2C%20and%20so%20on.%20I%20welcome%20that%20announcement%20in%20the%20spirit%20of%20collegiality.%20I%20very%20much%20welcome%20the%20Government%27s%20announcement%20in%20respect%20of%20the%20citizens%27%20assembly.%3C/p%3E%3Cp%3E%3Cimg%20alt%3D%22Dress%20for%20Success%22%20src%3D%22/imglibrary/2020/02/158280793494367938_sm.jpg%22%20height%3D%22156%22%20width%3D%22240%22%20/%3E%3C/p%3E&maxWords=100]
  • Celebrating the centenary of Countess Markievicz’s appointment as Minister for Labour, 2 April 1919

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e%3E%3Cp%3EOne%20of%20the%20main%20events%20of%20the%20year%20marking%20Countess%20Markievicz%2C%20was%20the%20presentation%20by%20Ceann%20Comhairle%20Se%C3%A1n%20%C3%93%20Feargha%C3%ADl%20of%20a%20portrait%20of%20Markievicz%20to%20Speaker%20of%20the%20House%20of%20Commons%20John%20Bercow%20on%20the%2019%20July%20last%20year.%20The%20V%C3%B3t%C3%A1il%20100%20committee%20were%20in%20attendance%20for%20the%20presentation%20in%20the%20Speaker%E2%80%99s%20House%20in%20Westminster%20and%20on%20that%20same%20day%20we%20visited%20the%20grave%20of%20Constance%E2%80%99s%20sister%20Eva%20Gore-Booth%20in%20Hampstead%20Heath.%20The%20presentation%20was%20the%20first%20formal%20recognition%20by%20the%20House%20of%20Commons%20of%20Markievicz%20being%20elected%20as%20the%20first%20woman%20MP%2C%20albeit%20not%20taking%20her%20seat.%20The%20picture%2C%20which%20is%20a%20photographic%20reproduction%20of%20a%201901%20oil%20painting%20of%20Markievicz%20owned%20by%20Dublin%20City%20Gallery%20The%20Hugh%20Lane%2C%20went%20on%20public%20display%20in%20Parliament%E2%80%99s%20%E2%80%98Voice%20and%20Vote%E2%80%99%20exhibition%20until%206%20October%20when%20it%20was%20transferred%20to%20Portcullis%20House%20for%20public%20display.%3C/p%3E%3Cfigure%3E%3Cem%3E%3Cimg%20id%3D%22u_b3_3%22%20alt%3D%22%22%20src%3D%22https%3A//scontent-dub4-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/p720x720/56301767_10161614775155424_4311074978138161152_o.jpg%3F_nc_cat%3D106%26amp%3B_nc_ht%3Dscontent-dub4-1.xx%26amp%3Boh%3D75d3b0957eb8137f1a98d6cffca90bf1%26amp%3Boe%3D5D4720FE%22%20/%3EWith%20the%20portrait%20of%20Countess%20Markievicz%20presented%20by%20the%20Ceann%20Comhairle%20to%20Speaker%20John%20Bercow%2C%20along%20with%20members%20of%20the%20V%C3%B3tail%20100%20committee%20at%20the%20Speaker%27s%20House%20in%20Westminster%2C%2018%20July%202018%3C/em%3E%3C/figure%3E%3Cp%3EThe%20National%20Gallery%20held%20an%20exhibition%20curated%20by%20Donal%20Maguire%20called%20%E2%80%98Markievicz%3A%20Portraits%20%26amp%3B%20Propaganda%E2%80%99%20which%20ran%20from%20October%20to%20February.%20As%20part%20of%20that%20exhibition%2C%20artist-in-residence%20Amanda%20Coogan%20invited%20women%20members%20of%20the%20Oireachtas%20to%20join%20her%20in%20a%20performance%20piece%20called%20%E2%80%98%20Floats%20in%20the%20Aether%E2%80%99%2C%20where%20we%20walked%20from%20Leinster%20House%20to%20the%20exhibition%20space%20in%20the%20National%20Gallery%20with%20women%20members%20of%20the%20Oireachtas%20to%20mark%20centenary%20of%201918%20election%20stopping%20at%20the%20images%20of%20Constance%2C%20and%20her%20sister%20Eva%20Gore-Booth.%20The%20performance%20aimed%20to%20Coogan%20believes%20bring%20groups%20of%20women%20together%20in%20the%20spirit%20of%20community%2C%20togetherness%2C%20witness%20and%20expectation%20to%20remember%20and%20celebrate%20the%20work%20of%20the%20Irish%20suffragettes%20and%20Markievicz%E2%80%99s%20Today%20marks%20the%20centenary%20of%20Countess%20Markievicz%20being%20appointed%20Secretary%20for%20Labour%20and%20a%20member%20of%20the%20executive%20%E2%80%93%20making%20her%20the%20first%20woman%20to%20hold%20a%20ministerial%20position%20in%20Great%20Britain%20and%20Ireland%2C%20and%20the%20first%20female%20Minister%20in%20Western%20Europe.historic%20breach%20of%20the%20glass%20ceiling.%3C/p%3E%3Cfigure%3E%3Cem%3E%3Cimg%20id%3D%22u_b3_4%22%20alt%3D%22%22%20src%3D%22https%3A//scontent-dub4-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/q82/p720x720/56209362_10161614780095424_4928158372940742656_o.jpg%3F_nc_cat%3D108%26amp%3B_nc_ht%3Dscontent-dub4-1.xx%26amp%3Boh%3D33148f20b57af767e4a5c9afe1a0ac7a%26amp%3Boe%3D5D40893A%22%20/%3EAmanda%20Coogan%2C%20artist-in-residence%20at%20the%20National%20Gallery%20with%20female%20Members%20of%20the%20Oireachtas%20at%20the%20%27Markievicz%3A%20Portraits%20%26amp%3B%20Propaganda%27%20exhibition%2C%2014%20December%202018%3C/em%3E%3C/figure%3E%3Cp%3EWe%20also%20marked%20the%20legacy%20of%20Markievicz%20with%20events%20on%20women%20in%20politics%20today.%20The%20portrait%20by%20artist%20Noel%20Murphy%20entitled%20%E2%80%98A%20Woman%E2%80%99s%20Place%E2%80%99%2C%20unveiled%20on%20International%20Women%E2%80%99s%20Day%20last%20year%2C%20and%20which%20now%20hangs%20at%20the%20steps%20of%20the%20D%C3%A1il%2C%20contains%20not%20only%20all%2053%20women%20members%20of%20the%20Oireachtas%2C%20but%20also%20a%20number%20of%20representations%20of%20Countess%20Markievicz%20herself%2C%20a%20nod%20to%20her%20legacy%20today.%20During%20Seachtain%20na%20Gaeilge%2C%20M%C3%A1ire%20Geoghegan%20Quinn%20gave%20a%20lecture%20in%20Irish%20about%20her%20time%20as%20Minister.%20She%20was%20of%20course%20the%20first%20woman%20appointed%20to%20cabinet%2060%20years%20after%20Markievicz.We%20were%20also%20delighted%20that%20the%20organisers%20of%20the%20Dublin%20Marathon%20chose%20to%20work%20with%20us%20as%20part%20of%20the%20V%C3%B3t%C3%A1il%20100%20programme%20and%20use%20the%20image%20of%20Constance%20Markievicz%20on%20the%20finishers%E2%80%99%20medal%20for%20the%202018%20race.%20It%20w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  • National Print Museum

    [smPullExtract inputText=%3Cp%3EIt%20was%20a%20pleasure%20to%20launch%20the%20National%20Print%20Museum%20seminar%3A%20%22Protest%20through%20Print%3A%20Women%27s%20Suffrage%20and%20Print%20Media%20Centenary%20Seminar%22%20as%20part%20of%20the%20excellent%20exhibition%20Print%2C%20Protest%20and%20the%20Polls.%3C/p%3E%3Cp%3EI%20highly%20recommend%20visiting%20the%20exhibition%20before%20it%20ends%20next%20month.%3C/p%3E%3Cp%3EMore%20information%20available%20on%20the%20Print%20Museum%27s%20website%20https%3A//www.nationalprintmuseum.ie/print-protest-and-the-polls-the-irish-suffrage-campaign-and-the-power-of-print-media/%3C/p%3E%3Cp%3E%C2%A0%3C/p%3E&maxWords=100]

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