Environmentally Friendly Menstrual Products – An Exciting Step in Period Destigmatisation

Environmentally Friendly Menstrual Products – An Exciting Step in Period Destigmatisation

As consumers choose to educate themselves and source products that are easy on the environment (and easier on the pocket in the long-term), reusable, eco-friendly and biodegradable sanitary products are on the rise. There is ample opportunity to move with fresh brands towards an organic and green approach, reducing your period footprint and decreasing the environmental impact of a natural bodily cycle. The average store-stocked sanitary pad contains 90% plastic, the equivalent of 4 single-use carrier bags, meaning a pack of 16 actually equates to 64 single-use bags. They are usually made from a combination of plastic, rayon, bleach and other chemicals. Tampons that can’t biodegrade often contain a thin layer of plastic along with a non-recyclable plastic applicator. 

 

According to household brand Lil-Lets’ website, the average woman uses 11 thousand tampons in her lifetime, which equals 5500 plastic bags. 20 billion disposable menstrual products end up in North American landfills alone. Thankfully, there is now an abundance of sustainable and reusable feminine sanitary products widely available in stores or online. Natracare plastic-free, vegan products are stocked in The Health Store nationwide. These innovative products are often identical in purpose and application to the plastic alternatives, so there is something to suit everybody.

 

Menstrual cups come in various shapes and sizes, produced by numerous brands including OrganiCup, DivaCup, Lunette and Mooncup. Unlike tampons, they contain no bleach or harmful substances, as well as being waste-free! Sitting inside the vagina, just below the cervix, menstrual cups can provide up to twelve hours wear, depending on your cycle. They can hold up to five times more than pads and tampons. There are plenty of step-by-step guides online, and similar to tampons they can be used when swimming. Cleaning is easy; a quick rinse with hot soapy water and a cleanser if it comes with the product, boiling it for a more thorough cleanse. On average, they are replaced once a year, but with proper care and cleaning a menstrual cup can last over a decade. 

 

Period underwear is a more expensive option, especially considering the potential need to purchase multiple sets. However, they are comfortable, discreet and long-lasting, with brands such as Thinx and Rael creating new styles to reshape the horrid imagery instantly brought to mind at the thought of period underwear. They can hold up to four tampons worth of menstrual fluid. If the leap is too frightening, cloth pads and pantiliners are a satisfactory alternative. There are endless colours, patterns and sizes available, sourced on Etsy or through brands GladRags, Tree Hugger and LunaPads, to name a few. Worn throughout the day for as long as you feel comfortable, simply hand or machine wash, minus chemical and bleach products. Gentle on the planet, comfortable and noninvasive. Brand Flo has natural bamboo pads, packaged in compostable plant film, while Organyc 100% biodegradable pads are targeted toward sensitive, allergy-prone skin.

 

DAME has created a lifelong 92% plant-based reusable tampon applicator to coincide with their organic tampons, similar to o.b. 100% organic, fragrance-free tampons available on Amazon. Washable sea sponge tampons are as the name suggests, available in various shapes and sizes. The Flex Company created a flexible disc for vaginal insertion, worn for up to twelve hours and holding five tampons worth of fluid. It’s hypoallergenic, BPA and latex-free, creating 60% less waste than tampons. 

 

More brands are emerging, intent on lessening the unnecessary environmental impact of human biology. Many have websites and social media elaborating further on their duty to reducing carbon footprints, guides on their products, customer reviews and tips as well as more information. Some options may appear costly at first glance, but with one box of pads costing around five euro, the savings made both personally and environmentally are priceless. Behind a multitude of brands lies a powerful message. From the movement to eliminate menstrual shame through destigmatization (The Miosta Project another worthy mention) to financial schemes aimed at tackling period poverty and ending FGM, the benefits to this product switchover are immense.

 

 

 

Photo by Josefin on Unsplash

 

 

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Airlines’ Responsibility on Climate Change

Aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions. It generates 600 million tonnes of CO2 a year and other factors are estimated to have an impact even higher than that of CO2. Ryanair claims to be Europe’s “greenest” airline, however, the low-cost carrier was named in a list of Europe’s top 10 CO2 emitters.

The Irish Environment to Have its Day in Court

Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), an Irish charity committed to tackling climate change, have become significant players in Irish climate litigation. Now, they have been granted special permission to go straight to the Supreme Court, to demand that the government do better to protect our environment.

Ecosia – the Search Engine that Plants Trees

Ecosia is a search engine founded by Christian Kroll, which gained popularity because of its promise to put 80% or more of its profits towards nonprofit organisations that focus on reforestation. Promising to maintain full financial transparency, it publishes monthly financial reports to build trust with its users.

A Student’s Call to Action on Climate Change

Climate change and environment issues, in general, are the most talked about topics these days, and for good reason. With all this news of despair and disaster regarding climate change it is easy to think that no matter what we do, nothing is enough. But this isn’t necessarily the case.

Fairtrade Fortnight 2020: The Way to Sustainable Chocoholism

Have you ever wondered what our life would be like without chocolate? For Ireland, such a scenario would mean an especially great deal. After all, Irish people are the third-largest chocolate consumers in the world. But even though chocolate is generally associated with feeling good, there is a side to it that speaks a different truth.

Environmentally Friendly Menstrual Products – An Exciting Step in Period Destigmatisation

As consumers choose to educate themselves and source products that are easy on the environment (and easier on the pocket in the long-term), reusable, eco-friendly and biodegradable sanitary products are on the rise. There is ample opportunity to reduce your period footprint and decrease the environmental impact of a natural bodily cycle.

#thefutureisfemale in Ireland?

#thefutureisfemale in Ireland?

#morewomen was a trending hashtag on twitter during the General Election 2020 (GE2020) election campaign. Launched by the Women for Election (WFE) group, the campaign pushed to achieve greater election of female TDs across the country. As we know, only one more female TD than in the previous Dáil was elected – nowhere near the numbers hoped for – and many constituencies are left without female representation. Furthermore, a number of high-profile female TDs lost their seats. 

 

Ireland now has 36 female TDs in 27 constituencies – or 22.5% representation overall. Of the parties, Sinn Féin has the biggest female representation (13 women elected), however, the Social Democrats outrank them on gender balance (66.6%). Ireland’s 22.5% representation contrasts with representation in other countries such as Rwanda (61.3%), Bolivia (53.1%), Sweden (46.1%) and Finland (42%). Indeed, the global average is 24.1%, so Ireland is not even reaching that figure. Ireland’s election quota system means parties face losing half of their funding if women don’t make up at least 30% of their candidates (this will rise to 40% in 2023). However, WFE CEO Ciairín de Buis has commented some of the larger parties seem to view the quota as ‘the bare minimum’ rather than the target. Because only 33% of GE2020 candidates were women, the lack of female TDs in the new Dáil isn’t all that surprising. 

 

The National Women’s Council of Ireland has called GE2020 ‘a missed opportunity for gender equality’. While the election  definitely represented a vote for change, women didn’t benefit. There had been concern from some, including Solidarity-People Before Profit candidate Ruth Coppinger (another female candidate who failed to secure a seat), that women’s rights issues were not getting the attention they deserved during GE2020. The Women’s Council did promote a successful ‘Feminist Manifesto’ during the GE2020 campaign, asking candidates to sign up to a number of key asks should they be elected to the next Dáil – including policies on ending violence against women, climate change and safe and local access to abortion. Many candidates across parties signed up – however, some might contend that certain parties and candidates signing up to #FemGen also support policies, and campaign on platforms, that are ‘unfeminist’ in nature. This same sentiment no doubt led some voters to respond to the #morewomen campaign, with a ‘Yes #morewomen but not any women will do!’ countercry. 

 

This harks back to one of the eternal debates – are quotas and affirmative action measures feminist? Should you vote for a woman just because she’s a woman? This is a difficult question to answer, nonetheless, there is an argument that women (and their policies) should not be held to a higher standard than men, and that just by having more women at the table you are working towards achieving a ‘critical mass’ of women which can ultimately lead to systems-change in the long run. While people should certainly vote according to their values – and choose candidates who best represent those values – if there had been more female candidates in GE2020, not just the bare minimum (33%) of candidates to choose from, this would be less of an issue.  

 

Looking to other countries for inspiration, we have seen how Finland’s new (young, female) cabinet, led by Sanna Marin, promotes diversity and a focus on gender. Without straying too far into essentialist arguments, Finland’s gender-friendly policies such as plans to give all new parents the same leave, and to introduce a shorter working week, suggests that having women in power, can – under the right circumstances at least – lead to a different way of doing politics. In order to achieve #morewomen candidates, a culture of gender diversity and strengthening the political pipeline is key. Groups like WFE play a crucial role in this regard, and it is also excellent that gender and women’s rights issues are gaining more prominence through initiatives like the Citizens’ Assembly. However, it is really imperative on us, the electorate, to demand more women candidates – and a greater diversity of women candidates – so that we can choose more women, great women, to represent us in the future.  

 

 

Photo by Lorie Shaull on Flickr

 

 

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Let’s Talk About Coronavirus And Women

Like most things in life, coronavirus has a gendered impact. Previous experience with viruses like Ebola and Zika has shown how these crises tend to have particularly harmful effects on women and girls and reinforce gender inequality. Now we can see similar patterns emerging regarding the coronavirus – including within Ireland.

New Emojis to Highlight Diversity

Emojis play an important role in digital communication, allowing us to express our emotions and convey meaning through cute little symbols. However, our ability to communicate is limited by the pictures and symbols on offer, and so emojis can make a big difference!

Asylum Seekers host Feminist Conference for International Women’s Day

On the 7th of March 2020, the organisation ‘Abolish Direct Provision’ hosted the first Asylum Seekers Feminist Conference, with the aim of uniting and empowering women in Direct Provision. The event, held in DCU, was attended by asylum seekers from Direct Provision centres all around the country.

FGM: An Ever-Lasting Fight?

FGM is the perfect example of the inequality many women and girls still have to suffer in today’s world. It stands for Female Genital Mutilation. The procedure entails the cutting and damaging of the female genitals and is also known as female circumcision. Although there haven’t been many cases of FGM in Ireland, it is still an issue here.

“Marry-Your-Rapist” Bill to Be Passed in Turkey

In rape cases, there is a victim and there is an aggressor. However, the Turkish government is currently attempting to progress a horrific “Marry-Your Rapist” law that will allow rapists to escape any judicial penalty.

Victim of the Magdalene Laundries Seeks Justice from UN Committee Against Torture

Elizabeth Coppin, a seventy-year-old survivor of the Magdalene laundries, is taking her case to the United Nations in a landmark move. Ms Coppin says that she has been denied justice by the Irish State for over twenty years. This could potentially have resounding implications for the State’s approach to historical abuse.

The 6th of January: Women’s Christmas

The 6th of January: Women’s Christmas

You might know the 6th of January as the Feast of the Epiphany or the day of arrival of the Magi – the Three Wise Men – at the crib in Bethlehem. It is also called Little Christmas as it falls twelve days after Christmas Day, and in parts of Ireland, it is celebrated as Nollaig na mBan or Women’s Christmas.

The tradition of celebrating Nollaig na mBan is particularly associated with the West of Ireland and it seems to have originated as a reward for all of the hard work by women of doing the cooking, cleaning and organising of Christmas festivities. 

On that day men took over the housework and allowed women time off to put their feet up and rest, or to visit other women and share in a small celebration of wine and treats – although the main ingredient was always talk! Throughout the year women sold eggs and used some of the egg money to buy turkeys which they reared and sold at Christmas, as this poem by Moya Roddy describes. Whatever was left over from this money after the expense of Christmas could be spent as the women saw fit, including using it to buy things for their own celebration on January 6th. The tradition of Nollaig na mBan allowed women some economic independence in a time when women did not have a lot of agency. 

Even today, women can be said to draw the short straw at Christmas, often having the responsibility for shopping, cooking, buying presents and looking after the family during the festive season, so any time out is precious.

Nollaig na mBan has been revived over the last number of years with more and more women celebrating it. It has also moved from being a rural event to an urban one too. As housework is more evenly divided these days, the tradition is now seen more as a celebration of friendship and sisterhood, a time of solidarity and warmth. 

So why not take the time this year on January 6th to visit with your female friends, relatives or neighbours or plan a get-together and celebrate the power and potential of female kinship? 

A very happy Women’s Christmas or Nollaig na mBan to you!

 

Photo by Piqsels

 

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Let’s Talk About Coronavirus And Women

Like most things in life, coronavirus has a gendered impact. Previous experience with viruses like Ebola and Zika has shown how these crises tend to have particularly harmful effects on women and girls and reinforce gender inequality. Now we can see similar patterns emerging regarding the coronavirus – including within Ireland.

New Emojis to Highlight Diversity

Emojis play an important role in digital communication, allowing us to express our emotions and convey meaning through cute little symbols. However, our ability to communicate is limited by the pictures and symbols on offer, and so emojis can make a big difference!

Asylum Seekers host Feminist Conference for International Women’s Day

On the 7th of March 2020, the organisation ‘Abolish Direct Provision’ hosted the first Asylum Seekers Feminist Conference, with the aim of uniting and empowering women in Direct Provision. The event, held in DCU, was attended by asylum seekers from Direct Provision centres all around the country.

FGM: An Ever-Lasting Fight?

FGM is the perfect example of the inequality many women and girls still have to suffer in today’s world. It stands for Female Genital Mutilation. The procedure entails the cutting and damaging of the female genitals and is also known as female circumcision. Although there haven’t been many cases of FGM in Ireland, it is still an issue here.

“Marry-Your-Rapist” Bill to Be Passed in Turkey

In rape cases, there is a victim and there is an aggressor. However, the Turkish government is currently attempting to progress a horrific “Marry-Your Rapist” law that will allow rapists to escape any judicial penalty.

Victim of the Magdalene Laundries Seeks Justice from UN Committee Against Torture

Elizabeth Coppin, a seventy-year-old survivor of the Magdalene laundries, is taking her case to the United Nations in a landmark move. Ms Coppin says that she has been denied justice by the Irish State for over twenty years. This could potentially have resounding implications for the State’s approach to historical abuse.

STAND Women: 2019 in Review

STAND Women: 2019 in Review

Women make up roughly 50% of our global population but still face significant human rights challenges, including some which are less visible but equally damaging such as gender bias in institutions like the media. I began my role as STAND’s Women’s Section Editor in June 2019 and six months in I’m continuing to learn so much about the issues women face, both internationally but also at home in Ireland – and the myriad connections and intersections that exist between issues! Here is a brief recap of the women’s rights issues STAND covered this year: 

 

In January, we discussed Gender Equality and the SDGs, asking how SDG 5 links to the other goals, and if countries are doing enough to empower women and girls. Fast forward to March as we documented the Polish government’s threats towards women activists and joined in International Women’s Day celebrations on 8 March. In April, the month of April Fools, we highlighted the unmet need for funny female-led superhero films. In May, we revisited the #BringBackOurGirls campaign five years on and documented the protests of women in Sudan as they took part in the uprising, as well as the practice of breast ironing which affects 3.8 million girls globally. In June, we explored the issue of conflict-related sexual violence; featured a positive news story about the Afghan girls robotic team; and celebrated women engineers like Hedy Lamarr (the 1940s starlet who helped to invent torpedo, Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS technologies) on International Women Engineers Day. In July, football frenzy in the form of the Women’s World Cup was upon us and we took the opportunity to highlight the inequalities women face in the sport. We also discussed self care’s radical origins (did you know it emerged from the feminist and black panther movements?) and the importance of family planning in women’s lives. In August, we marked a year of Greta Thunberg (TIME’s person of the year 2019), celebrated the incredible bravery of migrant rescuer Carola Rakete and the late Somali journalist Hodan Nalayeh (sadly killed in a terrorist attack earlier this year), and discussed the issue of coercive control. Intersections of climate change and gender are extremely important and so in September we focused on the indigenous women who are fighting against climate change, and highlighted the importance of including women in the just energy transition. We also profiled new research showing how countries experience better overall development when women’s rights are prioritised. October was a very busy month for us as we explored sexism in the media, period taboos, the current state of abortion services in Ireland, the sex for rent scandal, and got spooky with a Halloween-themed article about witches and misogyny. November brought a review of Louise O’Neill’s book and play: Asking For It. We also spread awareness about Endometriosis (a disease affecting 1 in 10 Irish women), and marked the new focus on gender in Ireland’s Citizen’s Assembly. In December we discussed Ecofeminism (do you consider yourself to be a radical or a cultural ecofeminist?), brought you the highlights from FemFest 2019 and reviewed the book “We Still drink Coffee” which features short stories about women human rights defenders (we hope it ended up in a few Christmas stockings!). Now in 2020, we look forward to a Christmas-themed article about Women’s Christmas (celebrated on the 6th of January) – so stay tuned! 

 

Happy New Year! Thank you to all of our readers and contributors and we look forward to your continued support and engagement in 2020.  

 

 

Photo by Marc Nozell

 

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

 

 

Let’s Talk About Coronavirus And Women

Like most things in life, coronavirus has a gendered impact. Previous experience with viruses like Ebola and Zika has shown how these crises tend to have particularly harmful effects on women and girls and reinforce gender inequality. Now we can see similar patterns emerging regarding the coronavirus – including within Ireland.

New Emojis to Highlight Diversity

Emojis play an important role in digital communication, allowing us to express our emotions and convey meaning through cute little symbols. However, our ability to communicate is limited by the pictures and symbols on offer, and so emojis can make a big difference!

Asylum Seekers host Feminist Conference for International Women’s Day

On the 7th of March 2020, the organisation ‘Abolish Direct Provision’ hosted the first Asylum Seekers Feminist Conference, with the aim of uniting and empowering women in Direct Provision. The event, held in DCU, was attended by asylum seekers from Direct Provision centres all around the country.

FGM: An Ever-Lasting Fight?

FGM is the perfect example of the inequality many women and girls still have to suffer in today’s world. It stands for Female Genital Mutilation. The procedure entails the cutting and damaging of the female genitals and is also known as female circumcision. Although there haven’t been many cases of FGM in Ireland, it is still an issue here.

“Marry-Your-Rapist” Bill to Be Passed in Turkey

In rape cases, there is a victim and there is an aggressor. However, the Turkish government is currently attempting to progress a horrific “Marry-Your Rapist” law that will allow rapists to escape any judicial penalty.

Victim of the Magdalene Laundries Seeks Justice from UN Committee Against Torture

Elizabeth Coppin, a seventy-year-old survivor of the Magdalene laundries, is taking her case to the United Nations in a landmark move. Ms Coppin says that she has been denied justice by the Irish State for over twenty years. This could potentially have resounding implications for the State’s approach to historical abuse.

The Prevalence of “Lad Culture” and Toxic Attitudes in Ireland

The Prevalence of “Lad Culture” and Toxic Attitudes in Ireland

Despite progressive changes occurring throughout Ireland in this decade, findings have proven the prevalence of toxic attitudes in young men. Safe Ireland’s newest research explores attitudes towards gender equality and domestic abuse in Ireland’s younger generations.

Ireland’s young women are still facing catcalling, sexist remarks and attitudes from peers, among other serious and intimidating behaviours from men. “Lad culture” has been brought to the attention of society and the media, yet there is not enough emphasis placed on education and reprimanding for negative behaviour and language. 

27% of men aged sixteen to twenty-five believe that men should act as head of the household, while 20% of the men surveyed believed they should earn the most money in the family. Traditional and often oppressive gender roles and stereotypes are found to be acceptable.

Young women surveyed acknowledged that not all young men embody lad culture. Potentially, their need to express peacekeeping views of “not all men” could indicate the ingrained fear of backlash for speaking out against unacceptable behaviours. This is plausible especially at a young and influential age, where people wish to build interpersonal skills and explore relationships. The women surveyed expressed worry for their future in relation to partners, as there may be potential for macho self-image to manifest into a deeper issue of abusive and violent behaviour.

2019 has been an unfortunate year for violence against women, as have years previous. The Central Statistics Office reports that for the fifth year in a row, recorded sexual offenses have increased. Conor McGregor faced investigastion for a second sexual assault charge, yet maintains huge support and is soon returning to the UFC. High-profile celebrities continue to share their MeToo stories, facing backlash and accusations of lying for attention. Women still need to fight to be believed. Prolific cases such as the 2018 Belfast rape trial shone a gloomy light on the reality of misogyny and sexism even within the law. Text messages between the accused struck a chord with women and men across the country, most of the public appalled yet not shocked by the derogatory commentary allowed and enabled within these groups of men. 

Within a human rights, feminist, environmentalist or activist bubble, it’s easy to assume real progression is happening. Safe Ireland’s study has shaken the notion that negative lad culture is an issue of the past, highlighting the need for education at a younger age, positive role modelling and absolute intolerance for misogynistic or violent behaviours. Older fathers in the survey regard the bravado and misogyny found in younger boys as “natural jostling and bravado.” 

Minimisation of toxic behaviours justifies and enforces inequality in practice. Language is action, and setting an example with words precedes and possibly prevents future violence. Victim blaming has proven to exist in wider society rather than in niche phenomenons like the incel (involuntarily celibate) communities and violent men. 16% of adults and 20% of men believe women might provoke abuse against themselves. Older mothers stated that young men could be vulnerable to how women dress or act, perpetrating sexism against women from women who have been socialised to believe these things.

Despite the belief in universities and media that stigma surrounding mental health issues or personal problems is decreasing, 25% of people believe that domestic violence is a private matter. This outlook has the potential to create dire consequences, from avoiding seeking help to isolation and further distress. 

This research is a wake-up call as well as a motivation to continue utilising resources, striving for gender equality and implementing change at a policy and community level through education, mentorship, role modelling and public campaigns. Older family members are a clear target group for updated education, as unknowingly they could be reinforcing oppressive views on the home and our gendered positions in the world.

 

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre runs a national 24-Hour Helpline which can be contacted on 1800 77 8888. Telephone counsellors are available to listen 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year and offer a free, confidential listening and support service.

 

Photo by Jan Koler

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

 

 

Let’s Talk About Coronavirus And Women

Like most things in life, coronavirus has a gendered impact. Previous experience with viruses like Ebola and Zika has shown how these crises tend to have particularly harmful effects on women and girls and reinforce gender inequality. Now we can see similar patterns emerging regarding the coronavirus – including within Ireland.

New Emojis to Highlight Diversity

Emojis play an important role in digital communication, allowing us to express our emotions and convey meaning through cute little symbols. However, our ability to communicate is limited by the pictures and symbols on offer, and so emojis can make a big difference!

Asylum Seekers host Feminist Conference for International Women’s Day

On the 7th of March 2020, the organisation ‘Abolish Direct Provision’ hosted the first Asylum Seekers Feminist Conference, with the aim of uniting and empowering women in Direct Provision. The event, held in DCU, was attended by asylum seekers from Direct Provision centres all around the country.

FGM: An Ever-Lasting Fight?

FGM is the perfect example of the inequality many women and girls still have to suffer in today’s world. It stands for Female Genital Mutilation. The procedure entails the cutting and damaging of the female genitals and is also known as female circumcision. Although there haven’t been many cases of FGM in Ireland, it is still an issue here.

“Marry-Your-Rapist” Bill to Be Passed in Turkey

In rape cases, there is a victim and there is an aggressor. However, the Turkish government is currently attempting to progress a horrific “Marry-Your Rapist” law that will allow rapists to escape any judicial penalty.

Victim of the Magdalene Laundries Seeks Justice from UN Committee Against Torture

Elizabeth Coppin, a seventy-year-old survivor of the Magdalene laundries, is taking her case to the United Nations in a landmark move. Ms Coppin says that she has been denied justice by the Irish State for over twenty years. This could potentially have resounding implications for the State’s approach to historical abuse.

FemFest 2019: Women’s inequality should come with a mental health warning

FemFest 2019: Women’s inequality should come with a mental health warning

“Any one of you can become leaders, and can lead the change needed to bring about a feminist Ireland”

– Siobhan McSweeney

 

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) hosted their fifth annual FemFest Saturday, November 30th in Dublin’s City Centre. Women between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five were invited to freely participate and unite in various workshops, panel discussions and listen to guest speakers. The event succeeded in empowering the future voices of our society, to continue pushing to implement change across all fields of adversity.

Following Director of NWCI Orla O’Connor, the day kicked off with a terrific key-note address from Derry Girls’ very own Siobhan McSweeney. Her opening address acknowledged the different types of women in attendance or simply existing, highlighting the theme of leadership, solidarity and inclusivity. 

The panels were diverse and the topics ranged from ableism in activism, to experiences of direct provision, back to the fundamental meaning of what feminism means to you. Owodunni Ola Mustapha (Ballyhaunis Inclusion Project) spoke of her current experience in direct provision with her children and the lack of independence, privacy and personal development that comes with it. Ola delivered her speech proudly and emotionally, thankful for the support she has received in Ireland but also determined to continue speaking out and unite other suffering asylum seekers. Renowned Irish author Louise O’Neill (Asking for It, Only Ever Yours) discussed her personal struggle with body image and eating disorders, amplified by social roles placed upon her in the media. Journalist Roe McDermott added to the mental health discussion, expressing distaste for the problematic efforts to have vulnerable people reach out to a society that has not been equipped with the tools to adequately reach back. Similar to workshops later in the day, the panel also explored the lack of sufficient sex education in Irish schools, a problem all too real even in 2019. Their varied and multi-cultural perspectives delved headfirst into current issues women face today, prompting discussion among attendees throughout the day.

I attended the workshops on Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships and Breaking Period Stigma.  During the first session, Facilitator Dr Hayley Mulligan explored our ideas of healthy practice in romantic relationships, how they first tend to manifest in friendships, and how to acknowledge that red flags aren’t warning signs, but the problem themselves. During the second workshop, Charlotte Amrouche, the founder of the Míosta project, explored period stigma within ourselves and others. We looked at reusable eco-friendly period products and came up with proactive solutions to menstrual challenges. Both workshops were under time constraints, which left them cut slightly short, but were invaluable all the same. Facilitators also acknowledged the importance of reaching beyond our feminist circles for education and engagement with these issues within the wider community.  

Following lunch at the Radisson Blu Hotel, drag artist Avoca Reaction performed female power anthems, evoking a positive reaction within us all. The second panel of the day included Keeva Lilith Carroll, who works as the national community development officer with the Transgender Equality Network of Ireland, and Eleanor Walsh, member of disabled women Ireland. Eleanor spoke about her experience as an autistic woman, who just by being a woman, doesn’t fit the perceived identity of a person with autism, labelled and categorised in society in more ways than one. Criticising the criticism of “armchair activism” (signing petitions online, sharing articles, donating to an NGO), she highlighted the ableist superiority complex of those who believe protest and arrests are the only adequate methods of resistance. To close she left the room with a thought-provoking statement regarding accessibility, inclusivity and equality that resonates with all hopeful change-makers: 

“Next time you’re at a meeting, or an event, look around the room to see who’s there, and see who isn’t.”

 

 Photo by Niamh Elliott-Sheridan

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

 

Let’s Talk About Coronavirus And Women

Like most things in life, coronavirus has a gendered impact. Previous experience with viruses like Ebola and Zika has shown how these crises tend to have particularly harmful effects on women and girls and reinforce gender inequality. Now we can see similar patterns emerging regarding the coronavirus – including within Ireland.

New Emojis to Highlight Diversity

Emojis play an important role in digital communication, allowing us to express our emotions and convey meaning through cute little symbols. However, our ability to communicate is limited by the pictures and symbols on offer, and so emojis can make a big difference!

Asylum Seekers host Feminist Conference for International Women’s Day

On the 7th of March 2020, the organisation ‘Abolish Direct Provision’ hosted the first Asylum Seekers Feminist Conference, with the aim of uniting and empowering women in Direct Provision. The event, held in DCU, was attended by asylum seekers from Direct Provision centres all around the country.

FGM: An Ever-Lasting Fight?

FGM is the perfect example of the inequality many women and girls still have to suffer in today’s world. It stands for Female Genital Mutilation. The procedure entails the cutting and damaging of the female genitals and is also known as female circumcision. Although there haven’t been many cases of FGM in Ireland, it is still an issue here.

“Marry-Your-Rapist” Bill to Be Passed in Turkey

In rape cases, there is a victim and there is an aggressor. However, the Turkish government is currently attempting to progress a horrific “Marry-Your Rapist” law that will allow rapists to escape any judicial penalty.

Victim of the Magdalene Laundries Seeks Justice from UN Committee Against Torture

Elizabeth Coppin, a seventy-year-old survivor of the Magdalene laundries, is taking her case to the United Nations in a landmark move. Ms Coppin says that she has been denied justice by the Irish State for over twenty years. This could potentially have resounding implications for the State’s approach to historical abuse.