CESCA – Cork Equal and Sustainable Communities Alliance: Ten grounds, one goal – “To promote equality and human rights in Cork City”

(Image permitted; courtesy of Tehmina Kazi from CESCA)

Original version published in The Evening Echo on Tuesday, November 7, 2017

In 2014, with the support of the HSE Social Inclusion Services, Cork, a number of community organisations came together to create Cork Equal and Sustainable Communities Alliance – CESCA. Tehmina Kazi is the policy and advocacy officer at CESCA. Born and raised in London, Tehmina studied Human Rights Law and worked in the area of Human Rights for different organisations before taking up her role at CESCA in August 2016.

CESCA works collectively to support the achievement of equality and human rights across nine grounds named in Irish equality legislation:

Age

Gender

Civil Status

Family Status

Disability

Sexual Orientation

Religion

Race

Membership of the Traveller Community

A tenth ground was recently added; Socio-economic status.

“The tenth one is key because it’s not mentioned in some charters. We think it is absolutely fundamental because it cuts across all the other grounds too,” says Tehmina.

CESCA has worked on a number of collaborations since its launch in 2014. Most notably, CESCA held its first Equality Conference in December 2016 to mark International Human Rights Day. The title of the conference was “Embedding Equality and Human Rights”.

“In December 2016, the key note speaker was Emily Logan, who is the Chief Commissioner of The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. Austin O’ Carroll also spoke at the conference. He was a Paralympian and he set up a mobile health service for the homeless in Dublin. We received really good feedback from that event”.

The second CESCA annual Equality Conference was held on 4th December 2017 at St Mary’s Health Campus, Gurranabraher.

The theme for the conference was ‘Making Human Rights Real’.

“It focused on taking human rights out of the pages of textbooks, and making them a reality in the lives of ordinary people”, said Tehmina.

“Human rights can often be seen to be the preserve of lawyers and with limited relevance to the lives of ordinary people. The conference aimed to make human rights relevant and applicable to community and voluntary groups who work for inclusion and equality”.

CESCA and its member organisations hope to engage as wide an audience as possible across Cork City via different events and initiatives.

The Social and Health Education Project (SHEP) is one of the organisations involved in the CESCA alliance.

Tehmina said: “On 1 June 2016, SHEP, one of our member organisations, put on an inter-cultural dialogue initiative, in partnership with CESCA and the Cork City Partnership. This was for people who wanted to talk about their own cultural and religious backgrounds with others, in the hope of enlightening them about different cultures and religions and so on, and how people of different backgrounds can come together and work together for the common good in Cork City”.

“We also co-sponsored LGBT week in Cork and Traveller Pride Week”.

CESCA are members of ENARIreland.ie. ENARIreland (European Network Against Racism Ireland) is the national network of anti-racism civil society organisations. It aims to work collectively to highlight and address the issue of racism in Ireland through the promotion and monitoring of EU and global anti-racist initiatives.

“Hate crimes, including anti-Muslim attacks, have risen quite sharply in Cork. I would urge, both victims of and witnesses to hate crimes to report these instance to An Garda Sìochàna or, if people don’t feel comfortable reporting to the authorities, to report via ireport.ie. ireport,ie is an online racist incident reporting platform. Launched in July 2013, it allows people, communities and organisations of Ireland to confidentially report racism nationwide. The tool does not replace reporting to authorities. It acts as a racism monitoring system. 

Tehmina explained the importance of an alliance like CESCA.

“This is a story which has significance for the whole of Ireland. As far as I’m aware, there is no other alliance like it in the whole country. I suppose you have other community development alliances in the country but do they have the HSE as part of that alliance? Do they have the range or the breadth of groups that we have and the range of issues we cover? No. It’s pioneering.”

In the long term, the alliance will continue to work towards its goal.

“[to] promote equality across the ten grounds in Cork City but to do so in more innovative ways.”.

For more information regarding CESCA, visit;

www.cesca.ie

or Email: info@cesca.ie

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