For convenience we often use the phrase “human rights and equality,” but such is the concept’s fundamental character that we should say “human rights including equality” or perhaps “equality and all other human rights.” Why? Because the essence of human rights is that they are universal and apply to everyone by virtue of their simple humanity.
Any breach of the equality principle therefore undermines the moral or normative basis of all human rights. Discrimination is an assault on human dignity and sense of belonging and self-worth; but it is also a breach of the very universality which is the basic characteristic of “human” rights.
Equality is also the basis of good relations between different groups. Good relations can only be built on respect and non-discrimination in a society that everyone agrees is basically fair.
To take the contrary position and promote good relations on the basis of the toleration of inequality is to simply argue for an acceptance of discrimination and possible repression. In a divided society this understanding of the overwhelming importance and primary position of equality is even more important. All these are reasons why CAJ takes equality very seriously indeed.
CAJ continue to support the women’s movement to ensure the full and equal participation of women in public and political life as committed to in the Good Friday/ Belfast Agreement.
CAJ continue to respond to human rights treaty bodies that advance women’s equality such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Convention on the Rights of Persons With a Disability, Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and other United Nations Resolutions such as Security Council Resolution 1325 Women, Peace and Security.
CAJ have contributed to gender specific work through working with the Women’s Policy Group to advance a Gender Equality Strategy for NI. CAJ supported the Women’s Manifesto for the NI Assembly elections in 2016. CAJ also made submissions to the Department for the Environment on women’s inclusion in community planning at a local government level in 2015. CAJ provided expert advice to the Legacy Gender Integration Group on the design of the Gender Principles for the Dealing with the Legacy of the Past 2015 and inclusion of a gender balance with regards to the setting up of any institutions for dealing with the legacy of the past in NI through the Stormont House Agreement Model Bill.
CAJ also made written submissions to the Westminster Associate Party Parliamentary Group’s call for evidence into the application of UNSCR 1325 to Northern Ireland in 2011 and 2013.
CAJ continue to work on equality of opportunity of women including all of their multiple identities through the Equality Coalition and its broader membership.
CAJ have taken a position on reproductive rights for women supporting both the decriminalisation of terminations and the liberalisation of abortion law in Northern Ireland.