“It’s not about a small amount of people being perfect, it’s about a huge amount of people making incremental changes.” The Slow Fashion Panel Discussion and Upcycling Masterclass in TCD was a roaring success.
The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that there are 60 journalists currently missing worldwide. In 2018, 54 journalists were killed as a result of their line of work, with murder accounting for the vast majority (34) of these deaths. This marks a significant increase from 2017, where 47 journalists were killed, including 18 murders. Other reasons accounting for this number of mortalities include death due to crossfire/combat and embarking on dangerous assignments. The countries where journalists were at highest risk of fatality in 2018 were Afghanistan (13), Syria (9), India (5), USA (4), and Mexico (4).
Arguably, the most well-known case of 2018 was the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudi journalist, author and columnist was an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia’s current leadership and was fired twice in his career for publishing material which criticised extremism and the manner in which the Saudi regime imposed religious values upon it’s people. On the 2nd of October 2018, Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain a document needed to marry his Turkish fiancée. Saudi officials initially denied that he was murdered there, but later conceded that he was killed after “discussions became physical”. Although his body was never returned to his loved ones, Sky News has reported that disfigured, “cut-up” parts of his body were found in the garden of the Saudi consul’s garden in Istanbul, approximately 500m from the scene of the killing.
In another case that has made international headlines, two Reuters journalists have been imprisoned in Myanmar since the 12th of December 2017 for reporting on a massacre of the Rohingya people. The story that prompted the arrest was titled “Massacre in Myanmar: How Myanmar forces burned, looted, and killed in a remote village” and unveiled the murder of ten Rohingya men by Myanmar troops in September 2017. According to the report, at least two men were hacked to death and some were buried while still making noises. All ten of the victims were buried in a single shallow grave. The writers of the piece, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested on the grounds that a breach of the Official Secrets Act has occured and remain imprisoned today. Their appeal was rejected in January 2019 despite international outrage at their detention.
Khashoggi, Wa Lone, Kyaw So Oo, and Maria Ressa were together named TIME Magazine’s Person of the year 2018 for their commitment to reporting the truth in the face of persecution and violence. If you would like to learn more injustice against journalists or contribute to the cause, you can subscribe to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ newspaper or donate online.
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Image courtesy of Bank Phrom via Unsplash
‘1,300 years ago Islam gave women their rights!’ Every time the issue of women’s rights is brought up in the Middle East, this phrase usually appears. This is important because history forms a big part of gender debates going on there now. So did Islam bring a revolution in women’s rights? Or was it horribly oppressive as others claim?
The answer seems complex.
It was certainly better than its contemporaries in medieval continental Europe. Women scholars like Fatima al-Fihri helped start the world’s oldest continually operating university in Quaraouiyine in Morocco in 859 CE. Aisha bint Abu Bakr, wife of the Prophet Muhammad, transmitted many Hadith, while others openly participated in battle. But was this new? Previously, Roman republican law and contemporary Irish Brehon law granted most of the same rights to property and divorce as Muslim women had.
Issues like FGM, slavery, and punishing women in relationships with men outside the community do find limited justification in interpretations of Islamic scripture and history, not unlike Christian tradition, and still have substantial support from some modern Fiqh (Islamic law) scholars.
So what use is this to gender debates now? Even if things were better historically, that is no excuse for present failings. Most Islamic legal texts were written decades after the Prophet’s death, and are only a medieval interpretation of Islam, not something set in stone. It can be reinterpreted as human’s self-knowledge improves. The educated, inquiring, driven Muslim youth have every prospect of doing just that.
Author, Ronan Stewart, is a participant in this year’s Ideas Collective. Ronan’s project aims to challenge myths and stereotypes about Islam that drive conflict through an online magazine and workshop series. He hopes to work with other organisations to combat these myths in a balanced and informed way.
Through the Ideas Collective, we support people who want to take action on the issues they care about. By doing this, we offer a creative and collaborative space, with like-minded people to harness the potential power of your idea! Find out more about the Ideas Collective here.
The UK is not a region known for its indigenous communities but Scotland is home to the often overlooked crofters. While faced with a number of challenges, Scottish crofters maintain an important place within Scotland’s cultural landscape.
There are 17700 crofts, or small farming lands, in Scotland. While many crofters will work the land, for most it is no longer their primary income. Moreover, crofting is often seen as a way of life, with distinct ties to Gaelic culture and the impacts of colonialism on the Scottish Highlands.
Crofters are not recognised as indigenous by the Scottish or British parliaments, although they have long been campaigning for official recognition. This official status would make crofters the only indigenous group in Britain, and would give crofters greater protection from discrimination. For many in the crofting community, it is also seen as the first step in establishing an independent, self-governing crofters’ parliament.
Although crofters now receive some legislative protection, they faced severe oppression until the late 19th Century. After the Highland Clearances of the 18th and 19th Centuries, which saw crofters denied the right to land, crofters responded with resistance to the British government. Taking their lead from the Irish Home Rulers, crofters formed a political movement, rebelling against the British administration, in a period of Scottish history referred to as the Crofters’ War. This led to the establishment of the Crofters Act of the late 1800s, which granted residential security to the crofting community. However, crofters were still met with discrimination and economic difficulties as a result of years of British intervention.
Modern Day Crofting
Today crofters still face difficulties, with high rates of depression and alcoholism among the highland regions and mass emigration leaving the land unworkable in parts. However, a number of organisations are working to protect crofters’ interests. The Crofting Commission is involved in overseeing crofting regulations, while the Scottish Crofting Federation is a vocal interest group which campaigns for better representation. Crofters have also gained widespread public support, receiving assistance from campaign groups and activists – most noticeably in the purchase of the Assynt crofting area in the late 20th century.
Crofters represent an important part of Scottish history – one which should not be forgotten.
For the first part of this series on indigenous populations, see here.
Above photo: a Crofting community by Donald Bain via WikiCommons.
The President of Ireland is largely a ceremonial position with little power over governing the State. However, the role creates a symbol of modern Ireland both at home and abroad, reflecting our history.
Here we recount 5 examples of when Irish Presidents used their position to bring attention to a wider issue.
Mary McAleese’s letter to the New York Times
After the Berkeley tragedy where 6 Irish J1 students died because a balcony they were standing on collapsed, the New York Times wrote a piece on the tragedy. They implied the Irish students should be blamed for the incident as over the years j1 students became a “source of embarrassment for Ireland, marked by a series of high-profile episodes involving drunken partying and the wrecking of apartments.”
McAleese responded with a letter to The New York times stating “the New York Times should be hanging its head in shame at how outrageously and without the remotest evidence it has rushed to judgment on those deaths.” McAleese signed the letter of with: “Mary McAleese, ex-President of Ireland, 1997-2011; J-1 visa student in San Francisco summer of 1971.” Though not serving as President at the time, the letter carried so much weight because she once held the position.
Michael D. Higgins’s subtle comments
The last number of years have been marked by an ever growing refugee crisis, met with apathy internationally. However, many leaders, such as our current President, have spoken out about being more welcoming.
“We can open a dialogue with the ‘cos muintir’ of the world, the excluded, the disappointed, the angry. Above all, we cannot abandon the excluded, the confused, to the predatory abuse of those who seek the exploitation of difference, of race, ethnicity, culture or gender. There can be no room for such abuse. We have in Europe and elsewhere experienced the consequences already,” said Michael D. Higgins.
While visiting New York, Higgins also spoke about the sexism which exist in the world and how “in Ireland, as across the world, the exclusion of women led to the impoverishment of our public policy and our body politic”.
Mary Robinson and controversial Bills
A record breaking President, Mary Robinson became the first female elected head of state in Ireland. At a time when Ireland was still relatively conservative, she broke the mould. Mary Robinson was also at the helm when signing Bills which she had fought for during her political career and prior to her Presidency. These included decriminalising homosexuality, providing an equal age of consent and liberalising the law on contraception.
She also shook up the Presidency, showing how beneficial it could be. Robinson did her first interview as President with puppets Zig and Zag on the children’s programme: The Den. She would later go on to become the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights.
A friendly visit
In 2011, for the first time ever, the Irish President hosted a British monarch, when Mary McAleese welcomed Queen Elizabeth II. Their visit to Croke Park stadium was controversial, as in 1920 the British army officers including those in the Auxiliary Division and the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) open fired on innocent people on the grounds during a GAA match. This event later became known as Bloody Sunday.
While giving a speech, the Queen began in Irish with “A Uachtaráin agus a chairde” (Translated from Irish: President and friends) which was met with applause, started by McAleese. The visit and welcome showed how it was possible to begin to heal after a conflict.
Michael D. Higgins’ way with words
Our current President, being a poet has a way with words. He once told the European Union leaders they need a “radical rethink” on how they’re handling the economic crisis. He also called for more rental accommodation to be made available in Ireland and called the housing situation a crisis. The most memorable moment of Higgins’ outspoken presidency so far could be his comments during the campaign for repealing the 8th Amendment which criminalised abortion in Ireland.
When speaking about the death of Savita Halappanvar who died from a septic miscarriage in Ireland in 2012 because she could not access abortion, Michael D Higgins said he: “expressed my sympathy to her husband and her extended family and I was joining the thousands of Irish people in the streets saying the same thing.”
STAND recently sat down with Ciaran Boyle and Robin O’Byrne, social entrepreneurs with the Glass Wall, to talk about how to kickstart an idea for change.
What does the Glass Wall do?
At its core, we’re a digital marketing agency that works exclusively with NGOs and social enterprises, and community projects as well. Our specialities would lie in social media marketing and cater towards a younger audience, 18-30 years old. We have an online magazine as well, that promotes social and political issues in Ireland for that same age demographic.
What gave you the idea?
We were really annoyed by all the sponsored ads we were getting from for-profit organisations and businesses constantly. We weren’t seeing anything on our newsfeed relating to the good things that charities and non-profits are doing all around Ireland. So, the reason we exist is to give them a space on people’s newsfeeds so they can spread awareness about their causes, and be heard.
How did you come up with the name?
Your phone is the glass wall. It’s that invisible barrier that you face when you see all these issues and you don’t know how to act. The glass wall is the barrier between yourself and the digital sphere that’s stopping you.
What advice would you give to someone that wants to change something but they don’t where to start?
Apply for the ideas collective! For us it was just that initial step. What happened was we went into the NCAD gallery and had a conversation with a woman about setting something up. It’s so easy to leave and not do anything, I think it takes a tiny bit of effort to just follow up on something and take that first act and then it’s a snowball effect.
How did the Ideas Collective help you?
People are so willing to help. There’s been so many occasions with someone who knows somebody who knows somebody. The main draw of it was, you’re in a room with people that are like minded. Everybody comes from such a diverse range of backgrounds, that it’s such a great thing to bounce your ideas off those kind of people. You get this core of people that are really creative and really passionate about what they do. They can offer you a wealth of advice.
What do you charge NGOs?
We tailor our rates to match the revenue income of the NGO. It’s a sliding scale system we use at the moment. We wouldn’t provide a service that they couldn’t afford…one of our clients is a very small charity, two members of staff and they had a large social media following but they didn’t really know what to do with it. So, we developed a training strategy for them to implement.
For more information on the Glass Wall see here.
Ciaran and Robin developed their ideas through the Ideas Collective. Do you have an idea for social and environmental change? Would you like to do your bit to tackle important issues? Applications for this year’s Ideas Collective are closing soon! Find out more at www.stand.ie/ideas-collective
Image courtesy of the Glass Wall.
To commemorate the centenary of Women’s suffrage in Ireland this year, we are bringing you a selection of profiles from female activists. These are women who campaigned for and shaped women’s rights in the early part of the 20th Century. They wrote and edited newspapers, campaigned and founded the Women’s Workers Union, but their greatest legacy is arguably winning the right to vote. This week, we examine the work of Isabella Tod.
When we hear about Irish Suffragettes, the focus is usually on those who supported Irish nationalism. This leaves out the numerous female unionists that fought for their right to vote. Despite common perceptions of unionism, in the late 19th Century, there was a whole network of women who contributed to various social issues and fought for the right to vote.
Moving to Belfast only in her twenties, Isabella Tod was born in 1836, the daughter of a merchant. Tod held strong Presbyterian beliefs throughout her life, which led her to work with charities and other social causes in Belfast. She also wrote anonymously for the Dublin University Magazine and the Banner of Ulster through the 1860s and 1870s.
Her social work led her to develop radical social views, particularly in relation to women. Like many other women of her class, Tod was part of sweeping change and involvement in politics in the late 19th Century with the burgeoning women’s movement. Changes to the law, meant political candidates could no longer pay for canvassers. The need for volunteer groups opened up avenues for many women to get involved in politics.
Like many of her contemporaries, Tod’s first campaign for women’s rights came from venereal disease. The contagious diseases acts of 1864, 1866 and 1869, sought to address the high rate of sexually transmitted infections among soldiers. However, their measures placed strict controls on female prostitutes. Middle-class women, such as Tod, recognised the double standard that only women were being punished for their sexuality.
Tod became involved in efforts to repeal the acts, which led to more legal work in reforming women’s access to education and property ownership. Her work in this area led her to believe not only that women were best suited to working on social issues but that they needed to be politically involved. Only then could proper social change occur.
This led to Tod’s belief that women deserved the right to vote. She became a founding member of the Northern Ireland Society for Women’s Suffrage in 1871, which was the first organisation with a feminist political agenda on the island of Ireland. Tod’s work led to women in Belfast earning the right to vote in local elections by 1887, before women in other municipalities.
When the First Home Rule bill was considered, Tod openly opposed it, costing her many suffragist friends who supported Irish nationalism. However, the opposition to this first bill was successful. Tod continued to fight for women’s rights, though without the help of nationalist suffragists. She died in Belfast in 1896.
November 8th, 2016 will forever be remembered as the day America chose to elect the least qualified presidential candidate in history. While there were many reasons the American electorate turned from Hilary Clinton to Donald Trump, it is undeniable that gender played in role in Clinton’s defeat.
Although it’s easy to shake our heads and tut at America’s lack of progress, let’s examine women’s political leadership in Ireland. Like America, Ireland has never had a female Taoiseach. As it stands, 32 women were elected to the Dail in 2016, a new record. However in July 2017, out of these representatives, only three women were chosen as Ministers for a Cabinet consisting of 19.
In a world that is strikingly unequal and unfair, how do we encourage and prepare young girls to overcome the barriers and take on leadership roles?
From an early age, we need to encourage young girls to be confident and to not shy away from hobbies or activities that ‘are for boys’. Subjects in school like engineering, coding, and science that are historically male-dominated should be inclusive to any young girl who has a passion and interest in them. Make it clear to them that education and careers are just as important as relationships. When it comes to sport, encourage them not to give up as they enter teenage years. Partaking in sports can teach girls leadership skills, provide them with the ability to work as a team and boost their mental health. More than anything, we need to teach young women that they deserve to take up the same amount of space as men.
Embracing Feminism and Intersectionality
Feminism has gotten a bad rap the last decade. Conservatives and traditionalists label modern feminism or ‘third-wave’ feminists as ‘man-haters’ and angry women. While the message of feminism may have gotten muddled with the rise of ‘white feminism’ and ‘feminist lite’, the essence of feminism lies in its definition: the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. Feminism is a champion of both sexes and encourages people to eschew traditional roles and be their most authentic selves. But a valid criticism in recent years has been that feminism is exclusively for white, middle-class women who fail to recognise the discrimination of women of colour, LGBT women, working-class women and women with disabilities. To truly reach gender equality, we need to ensure everyone has a share of the pot and to do this, intersectionality must be embraced and spread far and wide. The most common definition of intersectionality is; ‘The view that women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity. Cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society. Examples of this include race, gender, class, ability, and ethnicity.” We must continue to listen to voices from every background to ensure that our workplaces are not just full of women who fit the mold of ‘privilaged white girl’.
While diversity is the buzz word for the media and organisation’s, the real sign of progress is representation. In a 2016 study, Fortune report revealed that out of 1,000 companies in America, only 7% had female Chief Executives. This points to the harsh reality: women are underrepresented in levels of leadership. For example, If women do not have a say in political decisions; it means that the voices of 51% of the population are not being heard. This results in several socio-economic problems being ignored by male leaders and branded as ‘women’s issues’. To combat this; many global companies and governments have introduced gender quotas. While these quotas have been met with apprehension, from both men and women, they have proven successful in accelerating women’s progression in the corporate and political world. To enforce that women are represented at the top level, countries such as Norway have introduced sanctions for any company that doesn’t meet its quota requirements. In an article about gender quotas in the Scandinavian country, researcher Siri Terjesen explains that ‘if a company breaks the gender quota rules in Norway it will be denied registration as a business enterprise in the Brønnøysund Register Centre and be subject to forced dissolution by the courts. So far, no company has been sanctioned.’
Tackling online harassment
Statistically, females receive more abuse than males on social media. A 2016 Guardian study tracked 70 million user’s comments on its website over the course of 10 years. The results were unsurprising; out of the 10 writers who received the most abuse, eight were women. The 10 writers who received the least abuse were all men. News articles and opinion pieces aren’t the only breeding ground for online vitriol. Social media sites like Twitter have become a stomping ground for online trolls to harass women with messages of hate and threats of violence. Twitter has been slow to tackle this sort of abuse; at times they have failed to block users or ban their accounts, resulting in many female users abandoning the site altogether. One recent case acts as an example of how lawmakers did punish two online trolls who targeted a feminist campaigner. In 2014, two people were sentenced to jail for sending death and rape threats on Twitter to Caroline Criado-Perez, a writer campaigning for a woman to be featured on the £10 note, and to Labour MP Stella Creasy, who voiced her support of Criado-Perez. While it is promising to see individuals reprimanded for such acts, it’s worth noting that the pair were allowed to send multiple threats without the website suspending their accounts.
Raising Boys Differently
To inspire future female leaders, we must also change how we bring up young men. Similar to girls, we must encourage them to explore their true selves instead of forcing them into a small box of masculinity for the rest of their lives. Encourage them to see women as their equals in their personal lives and professional lives. This can start by ending gender segregation in primary and secondary school. Single-sex classrooms limit both girls and boys. In a 2011 article from Science.org, it argued that single-sex classes are ‘deeply misguided’ and that ‘There is no well-designed research showing that single-sex education improves students’ academic performance, but there is evidence that sex segregation increases gender stereotyping and legitimizes institutional sexism.” Additionally, we need to raise young men to believe that sharing parenting duties is the norm so that it means that a woman does not automatically give her up a career or take a step back from a career to raise children. Even if paternity leave becomes widely available, culture and attitudes need to change towards shared parental responsibilities. Figures released by the Department of Social Protection revealed that since the introduced changes in Ireland’s paternity leave set-up, only one in fours fathers took the two-week leave. If women are expected to climb the career ladder, men should be expected to do their best to ensure it happens.
For too long women have had no role models to guide them to the top. Men have had the luxury of mentors in every possible sector to help them get to the top of their field. Going back to the 2016 US elections, it wasn’t just Hilary Clinton who lost out. This was a defeat for every woman who deserved to see a woman finally get the opportunity to smash that glass ceiling to pieces.
Emily is a journalism graduate from DCU. Her work has appeared in the Irish Independent, Sunday World Online and Hot Press Magazine. She is passionate about equality and a fair society for all citizens.
Climate change is real.
These are only four words but they pack a punch. If that sounds ominous, wait until you realise the harsh truth; climate change is already happening. Despite the delusions of the President of America and his band of climate change-deniers, the world is now facing one of the biggest humanitarian crisis in history. If anyone still has doubts, the events of the last week should be a sobering dose of reality.
Hurricane Harvey hit Texas last weekend, bringing with it one of the largest amounts of rainfall (51.88 inches) the US has ever experienced as a result of a tropical storm. While the initial first-day impact of the hurricane was limited, the rainfall over the next few days has left Houston, Texas devastated. The tropical storm resulted in mass floodings across the city and its surrounding suburbs. The US National Weather Service reported that in some areas, the water levels were 25ft above flood level. Thousands of residents were forced to evacuate as flood waters submerged their homes, leaving many without food, money or shelter. As it stands, the death total from Hurricane Harvey is 18, with an estimated 30,000 now displaced and potentially homeless. The aftermath of the storm will be long-lasting; buildings and houses will need to be rebuilt, thousands will require new homes and the economy will take a massive hit as millions of dollars will go towards the relief effort. Similar to New Orleans after the catastrophic Hurricane Katrine, Houston will be forever altered.
While some may argue that the area itself is prone to tropical storms/hurricanes, given its location, it’s important to note that both Hurricane Katrina and Sandy had near identical results for the cities that they hit. All three of these of these storms were categorised as an ‘every 200-year event’ or ‘every 500-year event’ yet they all occurred within the last 12 years. The increase in severe tropical storms is not isolated to North America; while the media’s attention was directed towards Texas, South Asia was experiencing some of the worst floodings in its history. Flooding in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh has killed 1,200 and affected 16 million. The BBC reports that Bangladesh, which has been hit with its fourth flood this year, is now half underwater. Just like evacuees from Houston, families in Bangladesh have been forced to take shelter on any free patches of land until aid reaches them or temporary accommodation is built.
These incidents are only the start of future natural disasters as global temperatures continue to rise. According to temperature statistics overseen by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the average global temperature has increased by about 0.8 degrees Celsius since 1880. Even more worrying, GISS has revealed that two-thirds of this increase has occurred since 1975 at a rate of 0.15-0.20 degrees Celsius per decade. While scientists are reluctant to outright say that global warming was the cause of Hurricane Harvey, George Monbiot, a columnist for The Guardian, lambasted the public/media for not asking the obvious questions about the storm;
“We know that the severity and impact of hurricanes on coastal cities are exacerbated by at least two factors: higher sea levels, caused primarily by the thermal expansion of seawater; and greater storm intensity, caused by higher sea temperatures and the ability of warm air to hold more water than cold air. We were warned about this. In June, for instance, Robert Kopp, a professor of Earth sciences, predicted: “In the absence of major efforts to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience, the Gulf Coast will take a massive hit. Its exposure to sea-level rise – made worse by potentially stronger hurricanes – poses a major risk to its communities.”
Along with the huge structural and monetary damages, future storms could result in major loss of life. If these storms become more widespread and frequent, countries may not have the capacity to deal with them. As seen with Hurricane Katrina, it is the poorest who will bear the brunt of climate change first. Those without the means to effectively protect their homes or the monetary capital to flee will be the early casualties of climate change. Additionally, one common thread of each natural disaster is displacement. Based on statistics from the UN Refugee Agency, an annual average of 21.5 million people are displaced due to extreme weather-floods, storms, increased temperatures. This figure will only go up if the world continues to ignore the stark reality of global warming. Countries will be filled with ‘climate change refugees’ and their governments will not have the means nor the money to provide the basic necessities to care for these people, creating an economic and societal crisis.
Extreme temperatures and rising sea levels are not a ‘possibiity, they are a reality. If the world stands any chance against future disasters, we all need to limit and minimise the damage that has already been done. We must pressure governments to commit to reduce CO2 emissions and find other sources of renewable energy. The Paris Agreement was a step in the right direction for the world but with the news that President Trump will pull America out and disband with the country’s obligations, it signals that time is running out to stop the impending global catastrophe. Please write to the Irish government, Ministers and TDs. They aren’t taking action, so we have to.
Photo Credit: Texas National Guard Soldiers respond to the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tim Pruitt)
Emily is a journalism graduate from DCU. Her work has appeared in the Irish Independent, Sunday World Online and Hot Press Magazine. She is passionate about equality and a fair society for all citizens.
I have always been afraid. For women it’s normal. We learn to be afraid of walking alone after dark, afraid of alcohol, afraid of dressing a certain way; just to be afraid.
Louise O’Neill’s book Asking for it explores this fear in horrifying detail as we follow our main character, a young girl called Emma, who is beautiful, popular and enjoys male attention. She wore a revealing dress that night, she was drunk and took drugs, she went off alone with a group of boys, but did she deserve what happened to her?
Emma is not perfect. She’s not a picture of virtue or niceness and at some points I found her to be incredibly unlikeable as a character, but this to me was the greatest aspect of the book. It smashed down the belief that only “good girls” are to be believed and only “good girls” deserve justice. It’s a razor sharp and unforgiving exploration of rape culture, slut shaming and sexism in Ireland.
Emma’s trauma and destroyed life are made worse by the fact that all anyone else, even Emma herself, can think about is how her accusation affects the men involved. “I have ruined their lives. My fault, my fault” Emma repeats over and over, having no one to reassure her that as the victim, her life being ruined is all that matters.
This book is truly excellent and has been such a success that a stage production is planned at the Everyman Theatre in June 2018, and I for one can’t wait to see this hard hitting piece of literature brought to life.
Asking for it is a devastating and disillusioning read that will make you feel like punching a wall and curling up into a ball crying at the same time. I wish everyone in Ireland would read this book and try to understand the stigmas we all unconsciously perpetuate.
You can order a copy online at Easons here.
Credit: Pictured Louise O’Neill, photo by Miki Barlok
Clothes, we love them. We love having loads of them. They are the skin we choose, they show our personality, they are our identity. They make us look good, they make us feel good. We love new clothes, we love keeping up with the latest trend. We love deals, we love sales, we love bargains. So we love our clothes for a while, but we don’t mind too much when they’re no longer in fashion, or get worn-out, or are fit for the bin.
However, behind the glossy magazines, the internet shopping, the “must-have” items and whatever is the “new black”, our clothes are doing an awful lot of unnecessary harm. It is precisely our love of constantly changing, disposable, cheap fashion that is creating and supporting a system that is polluting our planet, denying millions of workers their human dignity and locking them into poverty. There is nothing sexy about fast-fashion.
Fast-fashion is a relatively new phenomenon which has escalated over the past 30 years. In the past clothes were an investment, trends lasted longer and quality was the paramount consideration. Now clothes are so cheap that it is often easier to buy a new dress for a night out than to get it cleaned. And facebook and instagram creates the idea that once photographed you can never repeat an outfit. Fast-fashion stores release new trends almost weekly.
Globalisation has led to outsourcing production to developing economies. Big brands have disproportionately benefitted from the low cost of labour and minimal levels of regulation in these states. Indeed, the governments of these states are often themselves powerless in the face of these multinationals, frequently engaging in a “race to the bottom” in terms of regulation and safety standards to attract more foreign direct investment. The terrible conditions of the factories was most recently exposed in the Rana Plaza disaster factory collapsed, killing 1,129 garment workers and injuring hundreds of others. The terrible and shocking reality is that our cheap clothes are subsidised by these workers lives. Despite regulatory reform in some states, problems persist with the implementation and enforcement mechanisms. Many factories engage in outsourcing to avoid scrutiny of their practices, this often means child labour.
Next there’s the environmental cost. Take a cotton t-shirt for example. To make one this will require 600 gallons of water, that’s 22 bathtubs, and 6 lbs of carbon dioxide, that’s like driving a car seven miles. So that’s how clothes are made, and yes, it’s awful, but it doesn’t stop there.
High street brands are clever, and to make the profits they make they need us buying a lot, so they make it cheap, and they make it change so we think we can and need to buy more. So as we buy more we throw out what we already have, and that ends up in landfill. Tonnes and tonnes of clothes landfill every year! So we have a situation where one piece of clothing is made for one person to wear a couple of times, then it ends up in a dump. Where is the sense in that? Who came up with that idea and thought, ‘yeah, this system won’t impact the world irreversibly’? The other option is to give clothes to charity shops, but were still stuck in a vicious cycle, because not all of those clothes will be sold and many of them are sent back to developing countries where they are sold at a knockdown price, undercutting the local garment economy… and eventually once again ending up in landfill.
So what’s the alternative? Ethical fashion brands are a step in the right direction, but we’ve found they are few and far between and tend to be too expensive for a student budget! Fast-fashion has changed the way we approach clothes for ever. The super cheap, super convenient and super stylish fast-fashion brands have revolutionised fashion. So we decided to try and come up with a new system that allows consumers to look great, have an affordable and constantly changing wardrobe – without the environmental and social costs.
After months of brainstorming and talking to people in fashion we came up with Nu. We are an ethical fashion community that rejects fast-fashion but refuses to compromise on style. We aim to facilitate clothes swapping and sharing to reduce consumption and use every item to its full potential. When you’re done with clothes you can give them away to others in the nu. community. They won’t get worn in landfill! We run creative and fun events in Dublin to raise awareness and show alternatives, like swap-shops, upcycling and repair workshops. In the future we will be helping our members shop ethically by allowing the cost of the clothes to be spread throughout the community. We are creating a “public wardrobe” of exclusively ethical brands from which our members can rent items, meaning that you still get a changing wardrobe without having to dispose of clothes. We are currently developing our website and app but in the meantime we’d love if you’d like to get involved.
Find out more: Sign up to our mailing list at www.nuethical.com (stay tuned for the release of our ethical E-zine)
Take action: bop along to the nu. launch event in Workmans, Dublin 2 at 5:30pm on November 22nd: https://www.facebook.com/
Authors: Ali Kelly and Aisling Byrne
Ali and Aisling are two recent Trinity graduates trying to reinvent the way we shop encouraging people to move away from the fast-fashion model by creating a more ethical and sustainable way to shop. Our aim is to create a system whereby it is as profitable to treat all involved in the fashion cycle right as it is to exploit people. Gone will be the days where one piece of clothing is made unethically for one person to wear a limited number of times before it is thrown into landfill. The future is in sharing high quality ethical clothing, we’re going to make that easy so you can have a changing wardrobe for a cheap price without having to dispose of clothes.
According to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community [and] to enjoy the arts.” However, poverty prevents countless people worldwide from accessing this right: literature, theatre, cinema and other forms of culture are generally sold as consumer goods, luxuries that are out of reach to the economically deprived.
Brazil’s government-funded Vale Cultura scheme provides an innovative solution to this problem. Rolled out in early 2014, the “cultural voucher” aims to promote social inclusion by sponsoring access to arts and culture by the poor.
“Literature, theatre, cinema and other forms of culture are generally sold as consumer goods, luxuries that are out of reach to the economically deprived”
Workers who earn up to five times the minimum wage are granted a monthly allowance enabling them to purchase goods and services broadly defined as “cultural”, including books, newspapers, theatre tickets and dance lessons.
Based on a model that has previously been used to subsidise food and transport, credits
are loaded onto a magnetic card and are
transferable at participating organisations.
Freedom of choice
During the first six months of the scheme, over 200,000 voucher holders throughout Brazil spent the equivalent of €4 million, 82% of which was spent on books, newspapers and magazines. Recipients are entitled to save their cultural credits from month to month should they wish to purchase a more expensive product or service, such as a language course.
Maintaining freedom of choice was a key consideration at the outset. The government does not dictate the kind of culture people consume through the programme. Speaking to Stand about the Vale Cultura scheme, Brazilian Ambassador to Ireland Afonso Cardoso cautioned that steering workers towards certain kinds of cultural pursuits would be dangerous and akin to censorship. “[The government] should not try to say this is ‘good’ culture, this is ‘not so good’ culture,” he said. “This is culture. Period.”
Culture fundamental to social inclusion
Since the mid-1980s, the Brazilian government has introduced several measures to support the arts, such as 1987’s Lei Rouanet. This legislation permits private companies to write off donations to cultural projects against taxes. Commenting on the trend, Cardoso emphasised that culture is the bedrock of social inclusion in a country that has striven to establish regional balance and to nurture economic development since achieving independence in 1822.
“Brazil is multi-ethnic, multi-racial,” Cardoso explained. “What makes us Brazilians is the fact that we share the same culture, we speak the same language. In fact, this culture incorporates values and inputs from this huge number of contributors to the formation of the Brazilian people.”
Lessons for Ireland?
Should Ireland take inspiration from the Brazilian example? Irish people living below the poverty line inevitably experience exclusion from mainstream cultural pursuits, like going the the cinema or attending music concerts.
While many of Ireland’s most prominent arts and heritage institutions are free to enter, museums are traditionally associated with “high culture”. This arguably presents a psychological barrier to access for people from lower-income backgrounds.
As Ambassador Cardoso reflected, “There is no such thing as ‘one size fits all.’ Perhaps, then, there is a place in Irish society for a government-sponsored initiative similar to the Vale Cultura.
Author: Deirdre Kilbride
Deirdre Kilbride holds an M Phil in Public History and Cultural Heritage and a BA in English Literature and History from Trinity College Dublin. She was recently awarded a Certificate in Marketing for Cultural Organisations by the Goethe-Institut. Deirdre has volunteered with a variety of Dublin-based educational and cultural organisations and is particularly interested in making the arts more accessible to marginalised groups in Irish society.
Photo credit: PhotoWalk – Centro de S.Paulo, Eduardo M, Creative Commons License
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)
I first read this quote when I was just beginning work with a development organisation, and I did doubt it, very much. Having seen many worthwhile projects come to fruition during my brief time working in development, I can understand now just how wrong I was, and I’m glad of that.
Every organisation, every initiative, every project began with one idea and, often, one person. When each of these people took the step to pitch their ideas, they found a whole community of likeminded individuals ready to support them and help bring about positive change.
The newest Suas programme, The Ideas Collective, is looking to do just that. If you have an idea for positive changeThe Ideas Collective wants to help you make this a reality, with the help of mentoring and masterclasses over the course of the summer.
Looking for inspiration? Take a look at these grassroots changemakers and see how their seemingly simple ideas brought about huge positive change.
A community-based project, Detroit Soup was founded by Amy Kaherl and some friends in a small suburb of the bankrupt city to help provide funding and inspiration for local artists. The ‘Soup’, as it is known locally, has been growing steadily ever since, and now aims to promote and nurture any ideas for improving both the community and people’s standards of living.
Soup takes place one night a week, in a community hall or disused space. Four people each get the chance to give a 4 minute presentation on an idea for a project to help the community. Attendees can pose 4 questions following each presentation. After this, food is served, giving everyone a chance to discuss the four ideas. Votes are cast, and the person with the winning idea gets to keep all remaining proceeds to help make the idea a reality.
The project has been a huge success, and Kaherl has even provided a guide for starting a new Soup in your own community.
FoodCloud was born of a desire to “help restore that good old Irish community spirit based on shared food.” Students Iseult Ward and Aoibheann O’Brien found that while one million tonnes of food are wasted in Ireland, there are 450,000 people going hungry. They sought to change this by developing an app that allows businesses to liaise with local charities in order to pass on any unwanted food to those in need.
The project has been a huge success since its inception, and continues to garner support from the likes of the Environmental Protection Agency, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, and Zero Percent (US). Ward and O’Brien, similar to Amy Kaherl (above), believe in food not just as a necessity for survival, but as a way of bringing a community together to enjoy a shared experience.
Beginning as one small part of a much larger festival (Electric Picnic), Avril Stanley knew that patience was the name of the game. This paid off when, in 2010, Body & Soul finally gained enough support to form its own weekend-long event in Ballinlough Castle, Co. Westmeath.
Inspired by her travels in Sri Lanka, Japan and South America, Stanley wished to create a sanctuary for festival-goers, a weekend-long utopia that would nurture creativity, spontaneity and all round good vibes. Top of the list of priorities, however, is environmental sustainability.
Stanley has devised some innovative ways to collaborate with the community of festival-goers to improve the sustainability of the festival as detailed in the Body & Soul Sustainability Ethos. These include using sustainable stage structures, replanting trees to offset the carbon footprint, and creating art installations from recycled materials.
With festival attendance growing every year (8,500 in 2014), Stanley hopes develop a long-term plan “to engage everyone at the festival and bring them along with us on our sustainability journey.”
Eager to shirk the impression of Sierra Leone as a war-torn, impoverished nation, Shane O’Connor, an avid Irish surfer, set about working with the local community of Bureh to help turn their proximity to the ocean into a means of generating income for the town. Thus the Bureh Beach Surf Club was founded in 2012.
What has followed has been a concerted local effort to boost tourism in the area, resulting in a host of new businesses opening up along the beach to meet the needs of a growing local economy. An increase in employment means that young people no longer have to leave their community to find income, and 25% of the funds raised by the surf club are being put back into other community projects to further develop the area.
Originally an Australian initiative, the first Irish Men’s Shed was set up by John Evoy in Tipperary town in 2009. With 40 men’s sheds now running and another 40 planned for development, the Irish Men’s Shed Association (IMSA) has established itself among many rural and urban communities in Ireland.
The idea is a simple one: men in a local community get together, on a weekly or fortnightly basis, to work on a project or learn a new skill together in a relaxed and encouraging environment. This provides men with an opportunity to “improve and maintain their mental health and wellbeing” by making new friends, gaining confidence, and learning from one another.
The grassroots initiative has helped to combat the social and physical isolation of both rural and urban life and, with suicide rates among Irish men growing steadily over the last five years, the support provided by Irish Men’s Sheds is more important now than ever before. Their mantra is fitting: “Men don’t talk face to face; they talk shoulder to shoulder.”
Do you have an idea for change that you’d like to put into action? Find out more about the Ideas Collective and apply for your place on this summer’s programme.
Author: Maev Moran
On 15th April 2014, more than 200 female students, aged 16-18, were kidnapped from a government secondary school in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. The attack has been attributed to Boko Haram, an Islamic Jihadist and Takfiri terrorist organisation based in northeast Nigeria. And the world has done nothing but offer lip service and candle lightings.
I was sitting at my desk, days before my final exams and I decided to take a tea break and flick through the news. The bold Washington Post title read “Abducted girls in Nigeria reportedly sold as brides to Boko Haram militants for $12.” I read on and the pit in my stomach grew deeper and hotter until it spit pure distilled rage. I was furious.
I scrambled for details about the abduction. I am a scientist and I like detail. Protests in the area sparked some media coverage. It was insulting to think the whole saga had conjured only hundreds, not thousands, not millions of protesters, demanding more from humanity. The figures about how many girls were abducted, how many had escaped, how many had died and who was taking responsibility was lost in translation or worse, not known. It was a disturbing web search.
One journalist interviewed an escapee who reported what had happened. Her photograph was printed. In that photo I saw every single piece of my own sister. And I was devastated. I thought, what have we done, as educated women, to allow our sisters be treated like this? And why am I hearing about this, weeks after the horror began? I mourned for that child’s freedom, her innocence and her friends. I wanted to get on a plane and hug this young girl and tell her she was safe but in truth she is not. I wanted to tell her a lot of things.
I wanted to say that I was sorry. I am sorry for not hearing of this sooner and I am sorry that you have been subject to such an unsuccessful response from the international ‘community.’
A Nigerian government official called the whole thing “a delicate issue.” Time magazine said that the situation was “a massive embarrassment to Nigeria’s government.” A mother of one victim screamed wordlessly to the clouds with her arms raised above her head, a mother, who had put her faith in her government to give her daughter an education, and now look. That government is embarrassed. I read on.
The back of my neck had gone volcanic. I was explosive with rage. And what could I do? I went to pick up my sister. My actual sister. My doe eyed, 18 year old, educated sister. She hopped in the car and we sat in traffic, my wrath as red as the traffic light and I watched the car loads of women, sitting, staring at the lights, a parade of bodies separated in their own cocoons of life and I wondered if they knew about the girls, like my sister beside me who were being sentenced to lives of sexual and physical abuse, forced into marriages for $12. I wondered if they knew, or if they cared. And if they did, what could they do?
I was frustrated, angry and deeply disturbed enough to sit down and write this piece. A wise educator once told me the pen is mightier than the sword and a brain will fire neurons far faster than any weapon will shoot bullets but in this case, when I picture our sister in a dark forest, hungry, tired, scared and hurt, writing doesn’t feel like enough.
The above piece was writen a few weeks ago. Today I re-evaluated our sisters’ situation in Nigeria. There seems to be dribs of articles appearing in our news feed with bold shocking titles but little progress behind them.
Where are the girls thought to be? In the Sambisa forest, a remote and inaccessible area of country. There have been reports that the girls have been taken out of the country, perhaps into northern Cameroon, but I have come to see that these ‘reports’ are not based on anything more solid than a guess.
While the number of girls kidnapped has not been finally or officially settled, the unconfirmed identities of 180 were released by a Christian activist. As of the 29th of May, 57 have managed to escape. There were both Muslims and Christians in the group of girls.
Opposition to western education
Why were these girls reefed from society and placed in this turmoil? Initially focused on opposing Western education – Boko Haram means “western education is forbidden” in the local Hausa language. Boko Haram was born in 2002 and launched military operations in 2009 to create an Islamic state. Boko Haram opposes western education, culture and modern science. The group claim to have ‘rescued’ the girls from the grips of evil western education. Previous victims to Boko Haram, who escaped in the past, report that they were forcibly married to favoured commanders as a reward. The stolen women were also used as sex slaves for their troops. Which brings up another point. This has happened before. Many unreported times, it appears.
There has been a heightened response from the international community since I first read about this travisty. The enroling of the US military into the situation was one such move. There has been a report of four more girls escaping. However it is not known if these girls were from a previous abduction or the Chibok incident. Either way, I think of these girls often and when I do my heart sinks into a shallow pool of dispair.
If this is how I feel how do the victimised families feel? How many times can a mother be expected to wake in the morning but still be kept in the dark, not knowing where her girl is?
Author: Ciara Spain
Ciara is from Dublin and has just finished studying Biochemistry in Trinity Collage with hopes of becoming a secondary school science teacher in September. Ciara became part of the Suas family in 2012 as she embarked on a life changing trip to the Sundarbans in India. Ciara has also volunteered with other groups abroad including EIL and Friends from Ireland.
Photo credit: Hundreds gather in New York to demand the release of the abducted girls, Michael Fleshman, Creative Commons Licence