Bronagh Hinds discusses the EU Women's Network



Bronagh Hinds talks about her involvement with a pan-European women’s network and the kinds of issues that were discussed at meetings.

You can find out more about the Troubles in Northern Ireland in Race, Place and Nation. What effect do you think the adoption of a broader, European-wide view would have had on both the conflict in Northern Ireland and on women’s equality?

Do you think that taking a comparative view of women’s equality across countries can highlight similarities or differences in women’s lives, achievements and status?



We had already been working on a pan European women’s network which was originally the European Network of Women, a forerunner to the European Women’s Lobby.

What would you discuss?

We would exchange experiences of what was happening to women in our various countries, we would talk about trying to get into a relationship with the European Commission and set up a pan European recognised women’s organisation, about lobbying and trying to get issues on the agenda of the European Commission and the European Parliament and we also ran – I’m just trying to think - yes, that was the European Network of Women Conference, also trying to get money to run particular conferences. And two of these stick in my mind. One was in Brussels and one was in Amsterdam, and the one in Amsterdam stands out in my mind because of a major discussion on a policy issue in which there were very divergent views between women in different countries. And the issue was around maternity leave, and the main division was between women in France and women in the UK. And I have to declare an interest in this because actually on the policy line I actually think the women in France were right and I think we have all come around to that position now. And I had to try and chair a compromise around this issue. Women in Britain were arguing for long and well paid maternity leave; a very fine ideal in its own right. Women in France were arguing the position of well paid maternity leave for women, but shorter maternity leave, because they were arguing that the longer the maternity leave is, the more maternity leave is not seen as maternity for the health of the mother and turns into childcare for the child. That was the issue. And so it was tied into the debate which became in later years parental leave, paternity leave and parental leave. But in those earlier days that was what the debate was, long or short maternity leave.

Bronagh Hinds discusses the EU Women's Network
15 - 16 March 2012
Sound recording
Sisterhood and After: The Women's Liberation Oral History Project
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