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Women Urged to Vote Yes to Lisbon to protect their rights

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Michelle with Catherine Day and Niamh GallagherMonday 24th August 2009

Women throughout Ireland are being urged to vote Yes in the Lisbon Treaty Referendum on October 2nd in order to protect their rights and the rights of their children.

Dungarvan native Michelle O'Donnell Keating and co-founder of the campaign group Women for Europe says  “Women’s lives have improved dramatically since our entry to the EEC in 1973.  For example, it was European laws which finally ensured Irish women were given equal pay to their male co-workers.  This treaty reinforces the principle of equality by including it amongst the values and objectives of the Union (Article 2 and 3)”.

“We believe this Treaty will continue to improve women’s lives. For example, it copper-fastens women’s right to maternity leave.  Article 33 (2), of the Charter, states that all women will have the right to paid maternity leave and also states that both mothers and fathers should have the right to parental leave following the birth or adoption of a child. 

“This is very important, particularly when so many of our social welfare entitlements are coming under pressure to be cut in order to reduce government spending. Women, particularly those who parent alone, are more likely to experience poverty and disadvantage.  The Treaty also makes provision for measures that provide for a social chapter which will improve the lives of these women and their families” (Title X).

Michelle O’Donnell Keating also points out that while Ireland is still debating whether to hold a referendum on children’s rights, the Lisbon Treaty includes the protection of children’s rights among the European Union’s values and objectives for its internal and external policies.  “This is the first time that children’s rights will be protected in this way and again shows how our membership of the European Union provides greater protection to Irish citizens than might otherwise be the case.”

“Many of the issues which concerned women in last year’s treaty have been clarified and “there should be no doubt in the minds of women that voting ‘Yes’ will impact positively on their lives”.

“The genuine concerns of many women relating to neutrality, our commissioner and other issues were listened to by our European partners and their willingness to put in place guarantees and protocols highlights their desire that Ireland remains at the heart of Europe”, she says.

“There is nothing to fear from this Treaty.  Its sole purpose is to make Europe work more efficiently and more transparently.  I urge women throughout Ireland to familiarise themselves with the Treaty before voting on October 2nd.  A guide for women to the Lisbon Treaty is available at and is also available direct from our office by phoning 01 605 1727