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International Women's Day

8 March 2012

Celebrating our achievements and restating our commitment and effort

The AIRE Centre is proud to be supporting International Women’s Day and to be using this opportunity to celebrate the successes we have achieved over the last year. Whilst delighted with the progress we have made regarding women’s rights, we must also acknowledge that the continued economic downturn disproportionately affects women. Services and support, fought for and established, in times of plenty are steadily being eroded, both in the UK and across the European continent. Our role in providing advice to an increasing number of vulnerable and marginalised women reflects the fact that in times of hardship women face multiple levels of discrimination and inequality.

We continue to address issues of domestic violence, women’s homelessness, human trafficking and women in detention through our advice and litigation work. In light of the specific needs of women who require legal services, we recognised the need for dedicated staff members and projects  that can adequately tackle these issues. We are therefore particularly pleased to welcome Skadden Fellow Sarah St.Vincent to the AIRE team – her expertise and passion for defending and promoting the rights of women have proven to be a very powerful asset. We are also delighted that staff lawyer Saadiya Chaudary will be re-establishing our extremely successful Esmée Fairbairn-funded project to provide dedicated support to victims of domestic violence and victims of human trafficking.  AIRE’s successful Comic Relief funded project continues, delivering UK-wide training on assisting trafficking victims, and by the end of January 2012 it had provided training to over two hundred legal practitioners and NGO staff.

In other work, AIRE’s project addressing EU migrants' access to special non-contributory benefits -supported by the European Commission- has identified specific challenges faced by EU migrant women in accessing benefits. The particular vulnerability of pregnant women, victims of domestic violence and human trafficking is a key focus area and the project aims to enhance knowledge among legal advisers and EU migrants on their rights and entitlements. Additionally, in November 2011, AIRE organised a conference on sex and gender discrimination in Montenegro as part of our ongoing Balkans-based programmes. International and domestic experts discussed prevailing law and practice related to gender discrimination and each presentation was followed by a discussion which helped facilitate multi-disciplinary problem solving and the sharing of best practice.

Training to address legal protection for women continues to be a priority for AIRE, especially in the niche areas of law in which our staff practice. If your organisation requires training in the area of women’s rights under EU law or the European Convention on Human Rights, please contact Sarah St.Vincent to discuss the seminars on offer.

We look forward to another year of supporting women and their families and would like to take this opportunity to thank all the other individuals and organisations that assist AIRE in making this possible. We would also like to welcome the UK Government’s announcement that they will be signing the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence.

We are all working towards a common goal of gender equality, safety, and justice and would like to take time, on this 101st International Women’s Day, to celebrate our achievements thus far and restate our  shared commitment  for the year ahead.

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