Humanities and Social Science Research Centre Supports Women's Human Rights Conference

The Humanities and Social Research Centre participated in a conference on Women's Human Rights at The University of Ulster, Jordanstown last week.

Dr Leslie Wolfe, President of the Centre for Women Policy Studies Washington DC USA, speaking at a conference on 'Transformative Politics and Women's Human Rights' told an audience that the Human Rights Agenda provided a conduit through which women could highlight those basic human rights specific to women. Rights to reproductive freedom, safety from persecution and violence - whether state sanctioned or in the home - equal rights to education and employment, and an end to forms of physical mutilation conducted in some countries as a so called cultural norm.

The conference was convened by Dr Fidelma Ashe, University of Ulster's Institute for Research and Social Sciences, and Associate Member of the Humanities and Social Science Research, Dundalk Institute of Technology and Ms Carmel Roulston (University of Ulster)

Also participating in the event were representatives from non-governmental organisations and political parties in Northern Ireland and the Republic. The Humanities and Social Science Research Centre (DkIT) was represented by Dr David Getty and Dr Bernadette Brereton. Speakers from the audience observed that even now in many states women are denied basic freedoms; witness the abuses of Women's Human Rights in Somalia. It is women who are often the neglected victims of wars and conflicts, but it was as late as 1993 before the United Nations formally acted on this issue. Ms Roulston noted that "the aim of the conference was to reflect on the way in which women's human rights were central in not only furthering the equality and human rights agenda, but that in Northern Ireland and elsewhere women had a specific role to play in transformative politics, speaking out for basic women's rights both locally and globally." Dr. Ashe summing up the contributions observed that the participants had 'highlighted the many layers of oppression and exclusion that continue to undermine women's human rights.

The global nature of women's human rights was a recurring theme of the conference, and Dr Wolfe reminded everyone that as they were now taking for granted freedoms and women's rights fought for by previous generations, that they had a responsibility for future generations of girls and women to continue to argue, debate and agitate for the continued development of global women's human rights.

The conference was supported by the Humanities and Social Science Research Centre (HSSRC) Dundalk Institute of Technology and the Political Studies Association UK. Dr David Getty, Director of HSSRC, welcomed the opportunity to be involved with the conference and looks forward to continuing collaboration with Dr Ashe and the University of Ulster's Institute for Research and Social Sciences.

Professor John Wilson, Institute for Research in Social Sciences, University of Ulster and Dr David Getty, Director, Humanities and Social Science Research Centre, Dundalk Institute of Technology

Dr Leslie Wolf

Speaker Biography
Dr. Leslie R. Wolfe is President of the Center for Women Policy Studies. Before joining the Center in 1987, Dr. Wolfe served as: Director of the Women's Educational Equity Act (WEEA) Program in the U.S. Department of Education; Director of the Project on Equal Education Rights (PEER); Deputy Director of the Women's Rights Program at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; and Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Education in the former Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

Dr. Wolfe has served on the Boards of Directors of Women's Policy, Inc., the U.S. Committee for UNIFEM, the National Council for Research on Women, the Montgomery County, MD Commission on Women, the Board of Trustees of Montgomery Community College (Montgomery County, MD), and the Policy Advisory Board of the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund; she also has served as chair of the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education.