Ending violence against women and girls17th February 2015The Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform (NIWEP) held a very successful consultation event on violence against women and girls. The event on Thursday 12th February 2015 featured a number of speakers, including the two Junior Ministers Jennifer McCann and Johnathan Bell, and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, who gave a positive speech on how far we’ve already come on these issues. People from across the community, including a number of WRDA staff members, gathered together to share their views and experiences and to offer their suggestions on how we can continue to tackle violence against women and girls in Northern Ireland. WRDA made sure to input ideas into these discussions. Key themes to come out of the event included the importance for education at an early age around healthy relationships and the roles of boys and girls, as well as the need for parents to talk to their children about what’s okay in a relationship. Participants also discussed the role of the media in its portrayal of news stories, the serious gaps in the justice system that can prevent those victims of violence who do come forward from accessing justice, and the legacy of the troubles in Northern Ireland and the need for women’s experiences to be recognised and valued in the peace process. Perhaps one of the biggest threats recognised by all was austerity and the cutting of vital funding to services such as Women’s Aid and the adverse impact the financial crisis is having on women and children. A report on the event is being drawn up at the moment and will be linked on this website as soon as it becomes available.