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Saturday 3 December 2016

Gender equality a right, says Higgins at Summit

Laura Larkin

Published 25/05/2016 | 02:30

President Michael D Higgins Picture: PA
President Michael D Higgins Picture: PA

President Michael D Higgins has committed Ireland to promoting gender equality and reproductive rights.

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He condemned a lack of funding provided by world governments to further women's rights.

The President addressed the first World Humanitarian Summit about the importance of women's rights in developing countries, declaring "gender equality is a right and not a gift".

Mr Higgins said women's rights were a "central priority" of his presidency and he described the level of funding provided to end violence against women as "derisory".

He also reiterated Ireland's commitment to promoting women's rights and ending violence against women and girls across the globe.

"We will ensure that the promotion of universal access to reproductive healthcare is included in our humanitarian action," he said.

"What is natural about excluding half of the world's population based on gender?"

His remarks come after his wife, Sabina Higgins, who did not join him in Istanbul, made a strong intervention in the debate on abortion.

She criticised the circumstances in which women were forced to give birth to babies with a fatal foetal abnormality.

However, speaking after the summit, Mr Higgins declined to be drawn on the issue of the controversial Eighth Amendment and whether it was a challenge to the reproductive rights for Irish women. Mr Higgins said he wanted to concentrate on the summit instead.

"I can't, I'm here for the humanitarian summit and I think it's very, very important that I give it its day in the sun.

"These issues are very important for men and women and children in developing countries, so this is what I'm here [for]," he said.

Irish Independent

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