New Focus on Gender in Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly

New Focus on Gender in Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly

Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly is shifting its focus to gender equality. Over the next six months, it will examine issues like the gender pay gap, sexual assault and how to increase women’s participation in business and politics. The issue of childcare is also expected to face serious scrutiny. 

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) has said it’s crucial that specific outcomes on care are reached, and hopes for a commitment to hold a referendum on removing the contentious ‘women in the home’ provision from Ireland’s constitution. Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI, has also stated that the housing and homeless crisis and the “epidemic of violence against women” are “critical barriers to gender equality”, and that the “voices and experiences of women” must be central to discussions. 

Focus Ireland has recently blogged about the shocking numbers of women who are homeless in Ireland, and latest statistics from the European Commission clearly show that, while “Irish women have more rights than their mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers”, gender equality is yet to be achieved in many areas including employment, career advancement, politics, and gender-based violence. 

Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly consists of a chairperson (Dr. Catherine Day will chair this assembly) and 99 citizens who are randomly selected to represent the Irish electorate in terms of gender, age and regional spread. Over a series of weekends, its members hear and deliberate expert evidence which is presented to them. At the end, they vote on proposed recommendations to be made to the State. 

In recent years, citizens’ assemblies have considered the issue of the Eighth Amendment and Marriage Equality with great success, as both sets of recommendations ultimately led to landmark legal breakthroughs in this country. Issues such as climate change and voting reform have also been deliberated, albeit with varying levels of success (though the recommendations on climate change did play a crucial role in shaping Ireland’s Climate Action Plan). 

There are divergent views regarding the efficacy of the citizens’ assembly model. News organisation Politico recently wrote that citizens’ assemblies are a “complex and limited democratic tool that can be used well – or badly”. 

One glaring issue relates to the actual implementation of their recommendations. While there has been notable success regarding certain issues (abortion and marriage equality in particular), many recommendations of Ireland’s citizens’ assembly have not progressed very far – and this is something which clearly needs addressing. 

Other issues include the hidden participation costs, including time costs, for members, something which also feeds into the ‘representativeness’ of the sample (for instance people with weekend work or care obligations are unlikely to be able to participate). One particularly interesting critique which has been levelled at the citizens’ assembly is that the model allows the Irish government to outsource responsibility for issues it should really be dealing with itself – and allows TDs to distance themselves from issues with might potentially alienate their voters. 

On the other hand, commentators like George Monbiot have recognised that these kind of democratic platforms provide citizens with a meaningful voice outside of the polling station and encourage greater public ownership of the political process. The citizens’ assembly process also arguably provides a useful feedback mechanism which can encourage progressives within Ireland’s government to take action and create meaningful change. 

STAND will be closely following all developments regarding the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality over the next few months. Stay tuned!

 

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

 

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Book Review: “Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!”

“Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!” is a collection of powerful essays, interspersed with beautiful illustrations, that tell the stories of female human rights defenders from Egypt, Kuwait, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey, Somalia and Sudan. Behind each story is a meeting of two women. Here is our review.

What is Ecofeminism?

Ecofeminism is a movement that unites two issues close to our hearts at STAND: women’s rights and the environment. It is perhaps one of the most useful ways we can look at a wide range of social issues we face today. However, the term may be unfamiliar to many.

Endometriosis Explained

Endometriosis affects one in every 10 women in Ireland. Carrying a huge personal and social cost. Despite this, awareness of endometriosis is sorely lacking. This STAND article aims to spread awareness of this chronic condition.

New Focus on Gender in Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly

Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly is shifting its focus to gender equality. Over the next six months, it will examine issues like the gender pay gap, sexual assault and how to increase women’s participation in business and politics.

Witches – a History of Misogyny

On this All-Hallows Eve, witches will be painting the town black. But while witches continue to fascinate as feminist symbols, the history of the witch is also bound up with a history of misogyny that still persists today.

Abortion and gay marriage: change is coming in Northern Ireland

Yesterday, a plenary session was held in Stormont, Northern Ireland’s Assembly. The Assembly, which has not sat in over a thousand days, was brought back together to try and vote about the decriminalisation of abortion and the legalisation of same sex marriage.

Climate change: when will we acknowledge our privilege?

Climate change: when will we acknowledge our privilege?

I was out for dinner with some friends this time last year and after the waiter took our order, one of them turned to me and asked me why I was vegetarian. I told him that although there were several reasons, it was primarily an effort to reduce my carbon footprint. The conversation inevitably turned to climate change to which he contributed: “sure we don’t have to worry about that for another 30 or 40 years”. His comment, the product of benign ignorance, struck me for a number of reasons. I realised that the truth about the climate crisis rarely reaches outside a certain cohort of people and often you have to seek this truth for yourself. I was also struck by the realisation that we in Ireland carry a certain privilege which many other people in the world do not. 

That memory resurfaced this week when Leo Varadkar made comments regarding the “benefits” of climate change to Irish people, including lower heating bills and fewer deaths due to warmer winters. His comments have been subjected to much criticism; and rightly so. They represent a willful ignorance of the impact that climate change is already having to many people beyond our shores, without mentioning what is yet to come for Ireland. At the core of his message is a display of privilege which is not afforded to most. 

Privilege and climate change are deeply interwoven and intersect in a number of ways. Firstly, any worthwhile conversation about the climate crisis must realise that not everyone is affected in the same way. While Leo dreams of milder winters, many in the global south are already learning to cope with the damaging effects of climate change. In Leo’s familial home of India more people than ever are dying due to extreme heat waves; in Bangladesh, towns  are being displaced due to sea level rise; that sea level rise is destroying fertile farmland and ruining livelihoods in Vietnam; while communities in sub-Saharan Africa suffer crop failure due to increasingly irregular weather patterns. The common theme here is that the countries which are already suffering are those with some of the lowest per-capita emissions in the world. This disparity became abundantly clear at the Pacific Islands Forum in August of this year where a group of low-lying nations, including the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu, asked Australia to stop burning coal because the country was directly contributing to sea level rise and land loss in the region. Australia arrogantly declined. Just three years previous, Kiribati was forced to purchase land in Fiji for the eventuality that the nation would be submersed in the coming years. The combined carbon footprint of these island nations does not even compare to the average Australian city, and yet they are losing their homes because of the greed of those in the developed world. 

This raises the second major intersection of climate change and privilege: not everyone contributes the same amount. One observation many people will point to is that greenhouse gas emissions are rising because Earth’s human population continues to grow far beyond a point it has ever reached in history. While there is a very real conversation to be had about curbing human population growth, the causes of climate change go far beyond just numbers. Many of the countries with the fastest-growing populations (e.g. India, Nigeria, Bangladesh) also have some of the lowest per-capita emissions in the world. This is because many of the activities which have driven climate change have, until now, been restricted to more privileged people in the developed world: air travel, car ownership, meat-intense diets, fast fashion and many other facets of consumerism which have yet to reach less developed nations. These are luxuries which most people in Ireland take for granted. If you’ve ever been on an airplane (even once), you’re among the privileged 18% of the world’s population; and I’d wager most people reading this have taken more than one flight in their lives.

If we are to reverse climate change, we first need to fully understand the dynamics that drive it, i.e. capitalism and its malicious offspring colonialism. The inequality that exists between those who are causing climate change and those who are suffering from it is the biggest challenge facing humanity presently. We are living in a globalised world and until now we have been a net beneficiary of a system which has left many other nations to fend for themselves against the consequences of our greed. It is time we held ourselves and other developed nations accountable for the negligent, reckless and sometimes heartless actions of the few. We are far beyond the point when a world leader can turn a blind eye to the devastating effects of the climate crisis. True leadership would recognise our privilege and use it to help those who have suffered under the same system which has benefitted us. But maybe that’s expecting too much of the Taoiseach.

 

Photo by Gareth Chaney/Collins on Irish Times

 

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The European Investment Bank’s decision to divest from fossil fuels

The European Investment Bank (EIB) recently announced that it would be phasing out investment in fossil fuel companies by 2021. The EIB is the biggest public lender globally and the move was celebrated by those within the banking industry and the environmental movement. It sends a clear message that markets are moving away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energies.

What is Ecofeminism?

Ecofeminism is a movement that unites two issues close to our hearts at STAND: women’s rights and the environment. It is perhaps one of the most useful ways we can look at a wide range of social issues we face today. However, the term may be unfamiliar to many.

‘We are the voice, we are the youth and we are the power’: Dublin students unleash rallying cry against the Government’s climate change inaction

The climate strike in Dublin marks the fourth global student strike, and yet the Irish Government has made little progress to show for it.

Climate Case Ireland launch an Appeal

Friday 22nd November marks the day that Climate Case Ireland lodged an appeal for the dismissal of their High Court case from January 2019. The coalition of members of Friends of the Irish Environment Ireland stated that an application has been made to both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. The group must lie in wait to hear whether the Supreme Court will permit the hearing of their case at this time.

Single-Use Plastics levies: The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly

Last week the Minister for the Environment announced that the Irish Government would be introducing a number of levies aimed at reducing single-use plastics. Two of the most notable levies being a ‘latte levy’ on disposable cups and a plastic bag levy increase. This is good news – so why has there been a murmur of controversy around this announcement?

Climate change: when will we acknowledge our privilege?

The truth about the climate crisis rarely reaches outside a certain cohort of people and often you have to seek this truth for yourself.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace: Ireland is making slow progress

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace: Ireland is making slow progress

Last month, the Good Summit Ireland, hosted in Trinity College,  aimed to create “a space for dialogue that motivates those who feel disengaged and disenchanted with how the world works, offering a platform for solidarity, with new ideas and empowerment.”  Editor Rose attended a talk on the topic of diversity in the workplace and reports for STAND News

Over 40 speakers, ranging from activists to corporates and researchers, spoke at events in six locations across Trinity’s iconic campus for the 4th edition of the annual Summit.

The ambitious purpose of the event clearly translated to the wide range of complex topics the expert panels discussed, ranging from homelessness, sports, social enterprise, health and more. 

Due to the scale and timing of the event, it was impossible to attend every talk. Instead, event-goers limited their attendance and participation to specific talks of personal interest. Attendees milled around the Trinity campus, interacting with student volunteers who led the way to different venues. Although it was heartening to see the number of student volunteers, there did not seem to be many students attendees. Perhaps, like me, they had to find a way to fit the Summit talks into their already busy college course schedules. 

I followed the directions of a student volunteer up a narrow staircase to the Diversity & Equality in the Workplace session, hosted by Moira Hogan, head of marketing at Business in the Community Ireland. In a bit of unintentional irony, the location of this event was a reminder of the practical challenges involved in accommodating diversity, as an audience member pointed out the lack of accessibility to the venue. Although the panel and the entire Good Summit meant to promote diversity, it was not accessible to those who may have physical disabilities or difficulties walking – thereby physically excluding them from participating. 

Ms. Hogan and her organisation aim to “make all companies in Ireland responsible and sustainable,” which includes promoting diversity, equality, and inclusion. The business workforce of Ireland today does not accurately reflect the diversity of the nation’s population. By helping companies develop and update their policies to promote diversity and equality while also sponsoring programs aimed to help people enter the workforce, Business in the Community Ireland aims to close this gap. 

Ms. Hogan and her colleagues answered questions about the current barriers and obstacles to diversity in the workplace, as viewed from the perspective of job-seekers. Many of their clients are refugees and immigrants to Ireland who face challenges finding employment and integrating into society. 

A large proportion of the barriers to diversity in the workplace lies in the strict requirements set by many employers. Irish employers expect Irish qualifications, for example the leaving certificate, an Irish college degree, or a certain score on an aptitude test. As the panel pointed out, these expectations are culturally biased and potentially exclusive. Foreign nationals are less likely to have leaving cert qualifications and are very unlikely to score highly on a subjective aptitude test. As a result of this restrictive qualification mentality, employers tend to undervalue work experience or qualifications obtained in other countries, effectively treating workers as though anything they have done outside Ireland has no value. 

Other challenges can be attributed to the less quantifiable aspects of the employment process. What one panelist referred to as “the Irish way of doing things” can be very challenging to grasp for those coming from the outside. Irish culture, like any other, has its own communication style. Although the prefered style here includes eye contact and small talk, there are cultures where avoiding eye contact is a sign of respect, and others where speaking directly is considered more polite. There is a tendency in Ireland to see what is culturally different as less than ideal or simply incorrect. As a result, instead of embracing diversity this hiring philosophy excludes those who do not fit the mould. 

In practice, many of these same barriers serve to exclude Irish nationals as well. Aspects of physical appearance such as skin color, religious attire, and even hairstyle, can also be points of discrimination. As evidenced by the stories of some clients of Business in the Community Ireland, something as simple as having a Muslim name can be a barrier. Racism and religious discrimination and unconscious bias are some of the largest barriers to diversity and equality in the Irish workplace. 

The business sector has the potential to be a huge instrument of positive change in society. Business in the Community Ireland works with companies to alter their requirements and reframe their mindset in order to promote diversity and innovation. The benefits of diversifying the Irish workforce are not merely social. As stated by Ms. Hogan, businesses with higher levels of diversity are 80% more productive, and innovation is promoted substantially by diversity. 

In keeping with the Good Summit values, the panel speakers encouraged audience members themselves to do their part to promote diversity and equality in Ireland. Hogan and her colleagues implored summit-goers to “take greater responsibility about racism in Ireland” while reminding people that the personal impact of compassion and collaboration can make a substantial difference in the community.

 

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

 

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Mental Health: an entrepreneur’s struggle

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. To give a real and complete insight of mental health struggles, he also talked to Andrea Horan, owner and entrepreneur of Tropical Popical.

Mental health: A musician and a psychotherapist

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about men’s experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. To do so, he interviewed a musician and a psychotherapist.

Movember: a young activist’s perspective

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about their own experience of dealing with mental and physical health issues.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace: Ireland is making slow progress

Last month, the Good Summit Ireland, hosted in Trinity College, aimed to create “a space for dialogue that motivates those who feel disengaged and disenchanted with how the world works, offering a platform for solidarity, with new ideas and empowerment.” Editor Rose attended a talk on the topic of diversity in the workplace and reports for STAND News.

Student mental health: Recharge and remain well

University is a brilliant time for students to learn new things. But it doesn’t come without its set of struggles. The Union of Students of Ireland (USI) launched their Re:Charge campaign, aiming to promote student mental health and get students thinking about ways that they can mind their mental health.

New York Fashion Week stuts in the right direction

STAND News reviews this year New York Fashion Week (NYFW) and tells you how it made history thanks to their most diverse casting of models.

Student mental health: Recharge and remain well

Student mental health: Recharge and remain well

University is a brilliant time for students to learn new things, socialise and become more independent. But it doesn’t come without its set of struggles. These struggles can include anything from rising prices of rent, exam stress, homesickness and much more. The Union of Students of Ireland (USI) visited colleges and universities such as Maynooth University, National University of Ireland Galway and Technological University Dublin Blanchardstown from Monday the 14th of October to launch their Re:Charge campaign, aiming to promote student mental health and get students thinking about ways that they can mind their mental health. The annual campaign was funded by the HSE and its focus was healthy eating, physical activity and talking to someone when you are feeling overwhelmed.

Students had the opportunity to visit the Re:Charge stand at their university and chat to members of the USI and their university’s welfare crew. The USI brought a big sheet of paper to put at the stand where students could write down what they do to recharge. Students were given the opportunity to read the responses of others and to learn coping mechanisms and strategies. It was a good way for students to gather more ideas on how to mind themselves in times of stress and on a day to day basis. Examples of student responses included: reading, exercising, having a cup of tea, hanging out with friends and painting. 

Available at the Re:Charge stand were additional resources to help students manage stress. Students could help themselves to fruit to kickstart their healthy eating. There was also a raffle for students to enter free of charge to win a USI Re:Charge water bottle or a USI Re:Charge notebook. These prizes aimed to help students with their mental wellbeing. The USI suggested that students use the notebook to journal about their day and their thought processes. The water bottle was intended to remind them to stay hydrated throughout their busy days to keep well and energetic. 

The Re:Charge campaign reminded students of the supports that are available to them both within their universities and beyond. Students learned about university medical and counselling support, as well as sports clubs to keep active during their studies. Students were made aware of Niteline and Samaritans and were given leaflets, pens and badges from these organisations. Members of Samaritans came to some of the universities to meet students face to face and explain the work they do. Niteline is a confidential, anonymous and non judgemental helpline run by students for students from 9pm-2:30am every day of the college term. Each volunteer is carefully selected and trained and ready to listen to students who want to talk about their mental health. The Samaritans is a 24/7 helpline to try to decrease the amount of isolation and disconnection people feel by being a source of support and a non judgemental listening ear for everybody.

Lorna Fitzpatrick, the President of the USI stated: “We are delighted to launch our Re:Charge roadshow for the second year running. Mental health is an issue close to every student’s heart and it is vitally important that students are made aware of the services available to them when they are not feeling their best.” She highlighted the importance of reducing the stigma surrounding mental health. The USI National Report on Student Mental Health in Third Level Education has shown that students have been struggling with their mental health. According to the report, 38.4% of students have experienced anxiety, 29.9% have experienced depression and 17.3% have experienced stress.  

Mental health is real and important. It exists everywhere and is something that everyone has. Universities and the USI are doing their best to help students manage their mental health at university. The Re:Charge campaign is important because it teaches students ways to deal with feelings of overwhelm and how to look after themselves while at university. It also gives students a chance to learn from each other and share ideas. It is high time we stepped up to accept the challenge to support our fellow students. Support can consist of listening non judgmentally and offering a helping hand to someone who is struggling with something even if it seems really small to you. The Re:Charge campaign shows students that they are not alone and have people and supports to turn to when they are feeling overwhelmed.

 

If you feel your mental health is impacted, don’t hesitate to reach out to the organisations mentioned above! Find resources and information on the Re:Charge campaign here.

 

Photo by the USI on Twitter.

 

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Mental Health: an entrepreneur’s struggle

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. To give a real and complete insight of mental health struggles, he also talked to Andrea Horan, owner and entrepreneur of Tropical Popical.

Mental health: A musician and a psychotherapist

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about men’s experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. To do so, he interviewed a musician and a psychotherapist.

Movember: a young activist’s perspective

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about their own experience of dealing with mental and physical health issues.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace: Ireland is making slow progress

Last month, the Good Summit Ireland, hosted in Trinity College, aimed to create “a space for dialogue that motivates those who feel disengaged and disenchanted with how the world works, offering a platform for solidarity, with new ideas and empowerment.” Editor Rose attended a talk on the topic of diversity in the workplace and reports for STAND News.

Student mental health: Recharge and remain well

University is a brilliant time for students to learn new things. But it doesn’t come without its set of struggles. The Union of Students of Ireland (USI) launched their Re:Charge campaign, aiming to promote student mental health and get students thinking about ways that they can mind their mental health.

New York Fashion Week stuts in the right direction

STAND News reviews this year New York Fashion Week (NYFW) and tells you how it made history thanks to their most diverse casting of models.

National Harp Day: Centuries of Song

National Harp Day: Centuries of Song

On Saturday October 19th, Ireland celebrated its third annual National Harp Day. 

Harp is well known in Ireland and around the world. From Trinity College to Guinness, to the Government, the harp is a symbol of Ireland. Less well known, however, is the historic tradition of Irish harp music.

The Historical Harp Society of Ireland hosted a Discovery Day event at the Seamus Ennis Arts Centre aimed to help the public learn more about the ancient instrument of Ireland. 

The event began with a lecture about the history of the harp given by renowned historian Simon Chadwick. His talk, attended by approximately 60 people, explained the differences between the musical traditions of the brass-strung early Irish harp and the modern nylon-strung harp.

Simon Chadwick shared analysis of the physical and instrumental aspects of the historical harp, including details about the willow wood and metal strings used in construction. He connected the instrument to the rich cultural tradition of travelling harpers in Ireland, with brief histories of Aurthur O’Neill and other such influential musicians. 

He also discussed  the 1792 Belfast Harper Society festival, attended by O’Neill and ten other harpers. It was dedicated to the preservation of harp music, and Edward Bunting, who later went on to publish influential work on traditional Irish music, was tasked with transcribing the harpers’ songs. 

Both the 1792 festival and the 2019 National Harp Day had the same goal: the preservation of the harp musical tradition in Ireland. The parallels between the 18th century three-day festival and the present day three-part event are a clear tribute to the lasting influence of harp music on Irish culture and identity. 

Following the talk, there was a lovely lunchtime recital of 17th and 18th century harp songs and instrumental pieces, performed by harper Siobhan Armstrong (director of the Historical Harp Society of Ireland) and singer Roisin Elsafty. The most striking element of this performance was the traditionally strung and structured harp itself – played expertly in the traditional style/technique by Siobhan Armstrong. 

As explained by Siobhan Armstrong, “this was the kind of harp played by Carolan and others, long ago, but the unforgettable sound of its brass-wire strings is only now being rediscovered once more. Though everyone is familiar with the medieval harp image on the Euro coin and a certain brand of beer, the chance to actually see, hear and play the instrument is unfortunately all too rare.”

For the final event of the Discovery Day, the Historical Harp Society of Ireland offered a beginners’ workshop. The workshop provided a wonderful opportunity for members of the public to engage with the historical harp tradition first-hand. Public interest in this workshop was high and all spaces were booked in advance of the event, illustrating the high demand for such interactive musical events in Dublin. 

National Harp Day was a significant cultural event that allowed the public to engage with harp, not just as a symbol for Ireland, but for the rich musical and cultural tradition that it represents. 

The harp in Ireland is not just a musical instrument; it is simultaneously a symbol of the rich historical past, as well as a symbol of present national identity. 

More information about the harp can be found on the website of the Historical Harp Society of Ireland at http://irishharp.org/.

 

Photo by Michael Pereckas on Flickr

 

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Book Review: “Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!”

“Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!” is a collection of powerful essays, interspersed with beautiful illustrations, that tell the stories of female human rights defenders from Egypt, Kuwait, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey, Somalia and Sudan. Behind each story is a meeting of two women. Here is our review.

Short shorts film festival 2019 in Dublin – What to remember

Earlier this month, the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) screened some of the best short films produced all over Europe, as part of the Short Shorts film festival. Screenings were hosted by language schools and embassies across Dublin.

Samantha Power’s Book Review: The Ideal Woman for the Job

Samantha Power arrived at her home city of Dublin and was greeted in Trinity College Dublin’s Regent’s House to rapturous applause. Although she’s best known for her government career in diplomacy, it is her staunch moral compass and dedication to humanitarian issues which have underpinned her career, and do so again in her memoir.

Book or Play: Asking for it under review

This brave, thought-provoking masterpiece by Louise O’Neill powerfully touches a raw nerve in Irish society.

National Harp Day: Centuries of Song

On Saturday October 19th, Ireland celebrated its third annual National Harp Day. The Historical Harp Society of Ireland hosted a Discovery Day event at the Seamus Ennis Arts Centre aimed to help the public learn more about the ancient instrument of Ireland.

The haunted lives of the Syrian workers

STAND reviews the documentary Taste of Cement, which projects the plight of the Syrian migrants in Lebanon, who have little choice but to make a living by working on construction sites. The visuals and sounds play an equally important role in the documentary.

The Validity of Plane-Shaming

The Validity of Plane-Shaming

The no-flying trend isn’t new. We all know or have heard of someone who prefers to spend hours on a train rather than hopping on a plane to go on holiday. But things have got to a new level with plane shaming, a new concept whereby travelers are meant to feel guilty about the carbon footprint of their flights. The burning topic has taken centre stage after climate activist Greta Thunberg sailed to the United States on a zero-carbon solar-powered yacht last summer. Although the journey was a perilous one, and took days to complete, it is the only way the teen activist accepted to travel across the pond. 

Although the impact of flights on the environment and the climate is a growing concern for many people, many think that other forms of transport are simply inaccessible for overseas travels. Budget airlines offer incredibly competitive prices which allows the public to travel for a variety of reasons – to see family, to access healthcare or other treatments, and even to work. 

Plane shaming seems to have more reach, as many influencers, celebrities, presidents and ministers are questioned on their use of private planes as a mode of transport. These  individuals often take private flights that may carry as little as two people, and yet do not use less fuel than a regular flight carrying hundreds of people. 

Furthermore, short flights are said to produce a larger amount of greenhouse gas emissions per passenger than other lengths of flights. According to Vox, a “one-way flight across the Atlantic from New York City to London emits one ton of carbon dioxide per passenger. There are upward of 2,500 flights over the North Atlantic every day.”

Flying is not in fact the most popular method of public transport, with only one fifth of the global population having ever taken a flight. Unfortunately, this means that these very few amount of fliers are accounting for the 2.5% of carbon emissions worldwide which are due to air travel. Reports also suggest that if nothing is done, by 2050, air travel could account to a quarter of the planet’s carbon budget.  

Things are slowly looking up, however. Some initiatives are starting to push the no-flying movement, such as “We Stay On The Ground” in 2018, which mainly aimed to convince people to pledge to living without flying for at least a year. Greta Thunberg travels across Europe by train, and when she was attending the United Nations Climate Action Summit in the U.S, she travelled on a zero-carbon boat. It is said that the Greta effect has caused fewer flights in Sweden, her home country. 

However, the individual may not be the one to blame. When asked how she felt on the topic of individuals taking flights less often or not at all, final year journalism student at Dublin City University, Clara Kelly, said “a large majority of people can’t afford to travel by ferry, yet still need to have access to leaving the country”. 

Sonja Tutty, vice-chair of DCU’s STAND society, said that individuals should not be the only ones held responsible. “It’s also up to corporations – and especially the aviation industry in this case – to change, because they are the biggest contributors to the problem. Moreover, Instead of shaming people for using planes, governments can try and develop their public transport, and make sustainable alternatives more affordable and accessible,” she concluded.

 

 

Photo by Jordan Sanchez on Unsplash

 

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Queen of England going “fur-free” is a step in the right direction

We’ve learnt it from Angela Kelly, Senior Dresser of Queen Elizabeth II of England: The Queen is going fur-free. By “going faux”, The Queen is setting a strong example and sending a powerful message, encouraging an ethical fashion trend that we should all follow. But we have mixed feelings about the lack of coherence between the Country’s statements about fur.

The European Investment Bank’s decision to divest from fossil fuels

The European Investment Bank (EIB) recently announced that it would be phasing out investment in fossil fuel companies by 2021. The EIB is the biggest public lender globally and the move was celebrated by those within the banking industry and the environmental movement. It sends a clear message that markets are moving away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energies.

What is Ecofeminism?

Ecofeminism is a movement that unites two issues close to our hearts at STAND: women’s rights and the environment. It is perhaps one of the most useful ways we can look at a wide range of social issues we face today. However, the term may be unfamiliar to many.

‘We are the voice, we are the youth and we are the power’: Dublin students unleash rallying cry against the Government’s climate change inaction

The climate strike in Dublin marks the fourth global student strike, and yet the Irish Government has made little progress to show for it.