Photo credits: KE Januszek Photography
Today, Wednesday 13 July 2016, was a momentous day for women across the UK as 40 MPs and Peers from across the different parties took part in the IC Change parliamentary lobby event to show their support for urgent ratification of the Istanbul Convention – so that women and girls in the UK can live free from violence.
IC Change have been campaigning for the Government to bring our laws in line with this ground-breaking piece of legislation since 2014. We have built strong networks across the women’s sector and beyond. We have engaged with parliamentarians. We have even sent a motivational mix tape and a giant birthday card to the Home Secretary (hoping Theresa May will remember this…).
As our networks and support grows, we continue to do everything within our power to ensure that the UK Government takes this vital step to protect women and girls and ensures a society in which they can live free from fear and violence.
With all it has to offer it is not surprising that support is growing for this essential law which will prevent violence, protect victims, prosecute perpetrators, and facilitate co-ordinated working and monitoring.
At today’s event we brought together the voices of leaders and experts from across the sector with MPs and Peers. We are united by a desire to ensure that ratification of the Istanbul Convention is made a priority by the government. Whilst the timing was a coincidence, these calls were made all the more important with the arrival of a new Prime Minister Theresa May and Home Secretary – Amber Rudd.
To date we have seen parliamentarians call for this to be done through asking Parliamentary questions, writing to Ministers, hosting Roundtable events, and taking part in Early Day Motions in March and in June, which have received significant support from across the aisles. This cross party working has been commendable and we must thank in particular Gavin Newlands MP, Jess Phillips MP, Maria Miller MP and Tom Brake MP for co-hosting today’s event. Today we were able to thank parliamentarians for their work in ensuring that the government take this important step in helping to end violence against women.
We all have a role to play in reaching out to MPs and Peers as Hilary Fisher (Director of Policy, Research & Campaigns, at Women’s Aid England) highlighted:
“We really need to ratify the convention to protect our domestic abuse services, so tell your MP and tell our new Prime Minister.”
Marsha Scott (CEO, Women’s Aid Scotland) added:
“It is time to end the arguing, the party politics, the official obsessing about elements that will be difficult. Just ratify.”
Both called on everyone get behind the IC Change campaign to raise the voices of individuals and organisations across the UK calling for ratification.
The support of parliament is all the more important following a recent, exciting development to the IC Change campaign. Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP tabling a Private Member’s Bill on the ratification of the Istanbul Convention. This will require the support of 100 MPs on the 16th December 2016. No small feat. But we must grasp this opportunity to help end violence against women.