Following a motion tabled by People Before Profit Councillor Maeve O’Neill on gender-based violence, Derry and Strabane Council will hear today from the Women’s Resource and Development Agency on their Feminist Recovery Plan and the initial findings of their research on violence against women and girls. Council will also hear from Koulla Yiasouma, the Commissioner for Children and Young People, on the need for proper age-appropriate, inclusive relationships and sexual education.
Recent research has shown the North is the most dangerous place in Europe for women, with more domestic violence killings here per capita than anywhere else.
Speaking about the meeting Councillor O’Neill said,
‘We’ve gone from a pandemic into a cost of living crisis. Both these crises have deepened the structural inequalities women experience on an everyday basis. In addressing gender-based violence we must look at the structural violence of the state impacting women such as Universal Credit, the two-child benefit cap, the costs of childcare and the denial of reproductive rights.
Research has shown when we have a recession, when poverty deepens, we see an increase in domestic violence. This is not to excuse men but to highlight that we must properly address poverty and deprivation in dealing with gender-based violence.
Services and shelters that support women and children experiencing domestic violence must also be invested in. And we must educate individuals on consent, sexual harassment and victim-blaming to dismantle the belief that women and girls are responsible for their own safety.
Education is key to challenging the roots of violence against women but we also need deep-rooted structural change. The impact of the cost of living crisis will disproportionately impact women, including potentially leading to increased domestic violence. This isn’t acceptable. We need action on the cost of living crisis and on all fronts to protect women and girls in our communities.’
The Council meeting will take place at 4pm today and can be accessed online.