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On Thursday, 7th April 2022, CEO of the Men’s Development Network, Seán Cooke, and our Head of Programmes and Advocacy, Colm Kelly Ryan, appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Gender Equality, providing an insight into our work with men and boys in the areas of transforming masculinity and gender-based violence.
MDN was invited to the hearing by the committee chair, Deputy Ivana Bacik, and also to make a submission regarding the Citizens’ Assembly’s Recommendations on Gender Equality. These 45 recommendations include proposed statutory provisions pertaining to Domestic, Sexual, and Gender-based Violence. MDN is the lead organisation nationally for the White Ribbon Ireland campaign, which engages with men to end violence against women and GBV, and recently made a separate comprehensive submission to the Third National Strategy on DSGBV.
On what Seán described as “a very significant moment for our organisation” in this our 25th year, he and Colm were joined in Leinster House by Kenny Doyle, MDN’s new Research, Policy, and Advocacy Project Officer. Also presenting at the same public session were representatives of AkiDwA, the national network for migrant women living in Ireland, and Safe Ireland, advocates for the safety of women and children.
In one of many contributions about how behavioural and attitudinal change can be brought about, Seán referred to MDN’s three-step strategy when it comes to positively engaging men in conversations around gender equality and solidarity. He also pointed to the simple power of the White Ribbon Ireland campaign pledge “never to commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women and gender-based violence.”
Colm Kelly Ryan said: “It was such an honour to attend as a witness on behalf of the Men’s Development Network and White Ribbon Campaign Ireland. It was wonderful to share the day with our team and the inspiring representatives from AkiDwA and Safe Ireland who each made excellent contributions. I would like to thank the Citizens’ Assembly for all their hard work and to the Committee, Chair Ivana Bacik, and members Senator Pauline O’Reilly, Senator Fintan Warfield, Deputy Niamh Smyth, Deputy Paul McAuliffe, Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, and Deputy Ciarán Cannon for all their questions.”
In wishing the Committee well in their work over the remaining 7-8 months of their deliberations, MDN is happy to further assist its work on all other areas of the Citizens’ Assembly recommendations.
Our detailed submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Gender Equality, which was framed following an extensive in-house consultation process within MDN on the Citizens’ Assembly’s Report and Recommendations, can be read here.