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Olive and Caroline with EU competition commissioner Neelie KroesWomen across Europe share many concerns. We worry about the economy, about our families, our jobs, our health, our environment, our safety, our place in society and our future. In many of these areas, a YES vote to the Lisbon Treaty will bring about both potential and real benefits to women.

Below, we outline the specific changes in Lisbon that will impact on women’s lives.(Article references from the Consolidated Treaties).



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How will the Lisbon Treaty improve women’s lives?

Women, particularly those who parent alone, are more likely to experience poverty and disadvantage. The Lisbon Treaty makes provision for measures that provide for a social chapter that will improve the lives of these women and their families (Title X).

How will the Lisbon Treaty ensure family rights?

Voting ’Yes’ to the Lisbon Treaty will mean that the right of the family to legal, economic and social protection (Article 33, Charter) must be taken into account when making EU laws.  Every citizen’s right to “respect for his or her private and family life, home and communications” will also be safeguarded (Article 7, Charter).

How does the Lisbon Treaty address childrens’ rights?

The Lisbon Treaty includes the protection of children’s rights among the European Union's values and objectives for its internal and external policies.  This is the first time that children’s rights will be protected in this way.  (Article 3 of the Treaty, Article 24 of the Charter)

How will Lisbon protect maternity rights?

Lisbon copper-fastens women’s right to maternity leave. It states that all women will have the right to paid maternity leave and both mothers and fathers should have the right to parental leave following the birth or adoption of a child (Article 33(2), Charter).

How can the Lisbon Treaty help combat human trafficking, sexual exploitation and domestic violence?

Human trafficking is modern day slavery.  Yet, thousands of women and children are trafficked into and around Europe every year against their will. Voting ‘Yes’ to the Lisbon Treaty will help ensure that trafficking (Articles 79 and 83) and forced labour will be banned.  It will also help police forces, across the Union, to work together in the fight against trafficking.  The Lisbon Treaty makes combating domestic violence a key aim (Declaration 19).

How does the Lisbon Treaty support the consumer?

The European Union has played a key role in ensuring high standards of consumer protection.  The Lisbon Treaty states that the European Union “shall contribute to protecting the health, safety and economic interests of consumers, as well as to promoting their right to information and  education”.

Can the Treaty help to safeguard public health?

The Lisbon Treaty will ensure that the EU monitors and attempts to prevent cross-border threats to health, like swine flu (Title XIV).  The treaty will also allow the EU to encourage member states to coordinate cross-border health services better (Article 168).

How does the Lisbon Treaty support education and further learning?

The Lisbon Treaty does not allow essential public services like education to be privatised.  In fact, the Charter of Fundamental Rights contains positive rights to free compulsory education. The majority of participants in second-chance and lifelong learning are women and the charter makes special reference to the right to lifelong learning.  The treaty does not compromise the denominational character of Ireland’s education system (Title XII).  It actually reinforces it (Article 14(3), Charter).

How can the Lisbon Treaty protect Irish public services?

The Lisbon Treaty allows for the protection of certain important public services.  Article 14 ensures that public services (such as social welfare, education or policing) are not open to competition on the free market. Competition will be allowed in other services, such as electricity or broadband supply where women and other consumers may benefit .

How does the Lisbon Treaty reinforce  the principle of equality?

Ensuring that women and men are treated as equals has been an important feature of the European Union. The Lisbon Treaty reinforces the principle of equality between women and men by including it amongst the values and objectives of the Union (Articles 2 and 3).

How will the Lisbon treaty ensure more democratic participation?

The Lisbon Treaty aims to bring Europe closer to its citizens. It imposes new obligations to ensure that European institutions engage with European and national parliaments, and directly with European citizens, in decision-making.

How will the Lisbon Treaty work to combat climate change?

The EU is a world leader in working to combat climate change. Already, Europe has a most efficient CO2 trading scheme. It has also  fixed very ambitious targets in terms of use of renewable energy. The Lisbon Treaty will facilitate continued cooperation between Member States to protect our world for future generations.

How will the Lisbon Treaty assist the Developing World?

Already, the EU is the world’s biggest provider of aid to poorer countries.  The Lisbon Treaty introduces a legal basis for humanitarian aid, and states that humanitarian aid operations shall be conducted “in compliance with the principles of international law and with the principles of impartiality, neutrality and non-discrimination” (Article 214).  A European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps is also to be established.