Judge McGuinness to Chair NUI Galway/UL Equality Through The Ages Event

Monday, 20 June 2011

Ms. Justice Catherine McGuinness will chair a seminar entitled Equality Through the Ages which examines key gender equality issues from birth to old age. The seminar is part of the NUI Galway - University of Limerick Strategic Alliance and will take place on Friday, 24 June at 10.00am in Áras Moyola, NUI Galway.

“Looking at gender equality from birth to old age makes a lot of sense from a legal perspective”, said Ms. Justice McGuinness. “Women have particular experiences at certain life stages. The legal framework must ensure that women can enjoy full and equal rights throughout their lives,” Ms. Justice McGuinness added.

The seminar, an initiative of women academics at the two Universities and the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, NUI Galway, is expected to draw a large number of academics and practitioners. Lead convenors of the event, Dr. Lucy-Ann Buckley, Law School, NUI Galway, and Dr. Patricia Conlan, UL, stress the continuing significance of gender equality issues for women, young and old, and also for men. “Despite the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, young girls, mothers of young children and older women are still particularly vulnerable to direct and indirect discrimination,” remarked Dr. Buckley.

Drawing on the holistic approaches to policy planning and legal reform identified by the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the day begins with issues affecting the girl child.

Legal protection of young girls from cultural practices such as circumcision and the particular educational experiences of children of working class mothers are identified as key gender equality issues in early life. “Legal and practical protection of the girl-child from practices of cultural circumcision in Ireland and abroad must be robust if Irish law is to meet international standards,” remarked speaker Anne Marlborough, Law School, NUI Galway, who will be evaluating current attempts to legislate in this area.

Experts on the impact of family life and work in Ireland highlight gender equality issues for men, particularly the issue of fathers’ rights in the family law courts. Dr. Anne Egan, Law School, NUI Galway is joined by Dr. Patricia Conlan, UL and renowned anti-discrimination legal practitioner and academic, Professor Klaus Michael Alenfelder to discuss gender discrimination in work and family life. Professor Alenfelder shares his extensive knowledge of both European and German law, providing a practitioner’s insight on gender discrimination in mid-life.

UK barrister and former Fulbright scholar Yvette Budé leads the programme on the third age. Law and policy can have particular implications for women in later life, as explained by Dr. Gemma Carney, Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, who will also speak at the event. “When it comes to old age, many women have accumulated disadvantage over the life course. As populations age, a life course perspective will become central to policy planning, otherwise, a combination of gender and age discrimination could lead to compounded inequalities for older women,” the policy specialist added.

The event will be closed by eminent activist, Ms. Sylvia Meehan, whose vision of women’s equality has led to her being awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Limerick in 1997 and the prestigious ’Person of the Year Award’ in 2009, also the year of her 80th birthday. “If we have achieved legal rights it is essential that we insist on their being delivered. The younger generation of women, who have many of the same pressures of work and family life as I had, are taking up the baton for future generations. I fully support the efforts of the strategic alliance and the Gender ARC now and in the future,” Ms. Meehan concluded.

For more information on this free event, contact Dr Lucy-Ann Buckley, School of Law, NUI Galway on 087-2245761 or email lucy-ann.buckley@nuigalway.ie

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