A very happy International Women’s Day to all, and especially to the many amazing women in my life.
For the day that’s in it, I’d like to thank two women in particular who helped nominate me as a candidate for the NUI constituency in this year’s Seanad Éireann election. Both are incredibly impressive with great achievements in their own fields, and I am honoured to have their support in this election.
My proposer, Claire McGing, is a lecturer in Political Geography at Maynooth University. Amongst other work, Claire is a noted scholar of women’s political participation, and has written extensively on the barriers faced by women who wish to enter the political arena. In particular, she has done great work to increase public understanding of the use of gender quotas for party candidate selection through education and outreach. She is a frequent contributor to media reporting on issues of gender equality in politics, and on the issue of social equality more generally.
My seconder, Anne-Marie Kelleher, is Head of Process & Product Development at the Tyndall National Institute at University College Cork. In her time at Tyndall, and its predecessor the National Microelectronics Research Centre, Anne-Marie has worked on cutting-edge technological innovations and led research projects with partners all around the world. Due to her success as a female leader in STEM, she has recently taken on a role as a mentor in the Aurora Leadership Development Programme, helping to facilitate other women in Irish higher education and research to achieve their leadership potential in a male-dominated environment. (She is also my mother, and therefore an early teacher of mine about gender equality issues.)
It is over 100 years since the the first time International Women’s Day was celebrated on 8 March, in 1914. Demonstrations on that day included a march from Bow to Trafalgar Square in London to demand that the voting franchise be extended to women; this was also the theme of that year’s observance in Germany. Such basic inequalities might seem a distant memory now, but in 2016, women in Ireland still face gender-based disadvantages and inequalities.
- Women still do not have legal control over their own bodies; we need to Repeal the Eighth Amendment.
- Women still face inequality in the workplace; we need to eliminate the gender gaps in pay, promotions, and employment.
- Women are still greatly underrepresented in the political sphere; we need to address the barriers to female political participation.
- Women are still at risk of physical and sexual violence; we need to eliminate violence against women, provide proper sex and consent education for all ages, and protect and empower survivors of such violence.
I have put my name to the NWCI’s Breakthrough Manifesto for Women. If elected, I will support these measures to try and make Ireland a better place for women: https://www.nwci.ie/index.php?/election2016/manifesto/.
Happy International Women’s Day, one and all.