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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The 6th of January: 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.

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. Cassie, our Women’s Section Editor, reminds us of the women’s rights issues that were important to us in 2019.

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

Despite progressive changes occurring throughout Ireland in this decade, findings exploring attitudes towards gender equality and domestic abuse in Ireland has proven the prevalence of toxic attitudes in young men. Ireland’s young women are still facing catcalling, sexist remarks and attitudes from peers, among other serious and intimidating behaviours.

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

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) hosted their fifth annual FemFest on 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.

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.

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!

 

 

The 6th of January: 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.

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. Cassie, our Women’s Section Editor, reminds us of the women’s rights issues that were important to us in 2019.

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

Despite progressive changes occurring throughout Ireland in this decade, findings exploring attitudes towards gender equality and domestic abuse in Ireland has proven the prevalence of toxic attitudes in young men. Ireland’s young women are still facing catcalling, sexist remarks and attitudes from peers, among other serious and intimidating behaviours.

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

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) hosted their fifth annual FemFest on 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.

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.

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

 

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

The 6th of January: 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.

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. Cassie, our Women’s Section Editor, reminds us of the women’s rights issues that were important to us in 2019.

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

Despite progressive changes occurring throughout Ireland in this decade, findings exploring attitudes towards gender equality and domestic abuse in Ireland has proven the prevalence of toxic attitudes in young men. Ireland’s young women are still facing catcalling, sexist remarks and attitudes from peers, among other serious and intimidating behaviours.

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

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) hosted their fifth annual FemFest on 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.

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.

Witches – a History of Misogyny

Witches – a History of Misogyny

On this All-Hallows Eve, witches will be painting the town black. People will be watching witchy movies, decorating their houses and gardens with witches to delight trick or treaters, and dressing up in some of the most reliable Halloween costumes: the spooky or sexy witch.  

The recent success of TV shows like The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (watch it for its shameless celebration of feminism and focus on gender!), American Horror Story’s Coven, books like Stacey Hall’s The Familiars, and literary characters like Hermione Granger, have brought witches – good and bad – back into the mainstream with a veritable bang! 

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. The Guardian recently published an excellent article entitled From Circe to Clinton: why powerful women are labelled as witches. In it, the author, Madeline Miller, writes how witches were feared because they transgress norms of female power and female sexuality. She details the types of women who were typically labelled as witches: older women and widows, foreign women (fears of witches are often grounded in racism), as well as women with political power like Joan of Arc and Anne Boleyn. This “othering” process conveniently served to root out women from society who were different and were seen as threats for various reasons. Fast forward to 2016 and the depictions of Hilary Clinton as a witch during the U.S. election campaign illustrate that the term “witch” is still a powerful label used in an attempt to subjugate women who are seen as usurping the status quo. 

Silvia Federici’s seminal book Caliban and the Witch considers how capitalism as an economic system helped to transform ordinary women into witches. Federici discusses how the transition to capitalism helped divide people along gender lines and how anger over the system was channelled into forms of misogyny that would set the stage for the witch trials in Europe. She writes that the witch hunts were a major political initiative – as well as a religious one – to control women’s bodies as “a means of production and reproduction”. Whether or not you agree with Federici’s theories about capitalism, there is no doubt the witch hunts represented a form of state and church-sanctioned gendercide or feminicide whereby tens of thousands of women were literally hunted down and killed. 

And while it might seem that witch trials and witch hunts are ancient history, this is unfortunately not the case. In the last decade, UN officials have reported a global rise in the number of women killed as witches. In India, older women are targeted as scapegoats or as an excuse to seize their lands and goods. In Saudi Arabia, witch-hunting is fairly institutionalised and women have been convicted of practising witchcraft by the courts. In Ghana, women suspected of witchcraft have been exiled to “witch camps”, as captured in Rungano Nyoni’s excellent film, I Am Not a Witch. In the US, a survey found that 21% of people believed in witches of the “evil” variety. 

So, while donning your pointy hat and stripy stockings this Halloween, it is important to take a moment to consider the misogyny that still permeates women’s lives – both in the form of severe human rights abuses but also in the casual everyday sexism whereby “witch” is still wielded as a pejorative term to suppress women’s agency by men who feel threatened by their power. 

 

Happy Halloween Witches!

 

Photo on Max Pixel

 

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

The 6th of January: 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.

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. Cassie, our Women’s Section Editor, reminds us of the women’s rights issues that were important to us in 2019.

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

Despite progressive changes occurring throughout Ireland in this decade, findings exploring attitudes towards gender equality and domestic abuse in Ireland has proven the prevalence of toxic attitudes in young men. Ireland’s young women are still facing catcalling, sexist remarks and attitudes from peers, among other serious and intimidating behaviours.

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

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) hosted their fifth annual FemFest on 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.

Girls Challenge the Script on International Girls Day!

Girls Challenge the Script on International Girls Day!

“It’s urgent that we no longer create stories that teach children to view women and girls as second-class citizens – not when we’ve seen the level of sexism in our culture so egregiously put on display.”  

These are the words of Geena Davis: founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (GDIGM) and star of films like Thelma and Louise and A League of their Own (two films which pass the Bechdel test with flying colours). 

As part of today’s #Girlstakeover, on 11th October, the International Day of the Girl, women and girls are demanding radical change in their portrayal in films, entertainment, textbooks, advertising, video games and other communications media. Indeed, this year’s international day theme is Girlpower: Unscripted and Unstoppable! 

Media’s influence on our thoughts, beliefs, and actions is subtle yet powerful. Because stereotypes are like air – invisible but omnipresent – they are often overlooked, making them especially insidious. Unfortunately, much of what girls see in the media reinforces gender discrimination and harmful stereotypes. This affects how others view girls and how girls view themselves. 

The #RewriteHerStory takeover is inspired by recent research published by the GDIGM, Plan International, and the Girls Get Equal campaign. It analyses the 56 top-grossing films in 20 countries to assess their impact on girls – and discovered the films send a message that leadership is mostly for men, particularly older white men. Women leaders (regardless of whether they are presidents, CEOs or business owners) are far more likely to be sexualised or objectified, shown in revealing outfits or completely nude.  

The report calls for an end to harmful stereotypes and encourages making stories about female leadership normal and visible. A central message is “if girls can’t see it, they can’t be it”. This is particularly the case for women of colour who are even less likely to see characters who look like them in the media. 

Media can be a force for good, but not if it perpetuates stereotypes or –even worse – ignores women entirely. Indeed, previous research by the GDIGM showed that female characters make up only 17% of crowd scenes in films! Davis says this sends a subtle signal that 17% women’s representation is a “natural state of affairs”

I remember my mother phoning Kelloggs when I was a young girl to complain that all the cartoon characters – Cornelius Rooster, Coco Monkey, Tony the Tiger and so on – on my breakfast cereal boxes were male. The person she spoke with vainly tried to convince her that one of the Snap, Crackle and Pop trio was a girl but my mother wasn’t buying it! At the time, I didn’t realise she was setting a great example by teaching me to query women’s presence and absence in the media and other spaces.  

So, the next time you are watching Netflix or consuming other media, start paying attention to how women are portrayed and consider the ratio between female and male characters. You might be surprised what you notice once you start looking.

Please follow today’s #RewriteHerStory takeover!

 

Image courtesy of Plan International.

 

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

The 6th of January: 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.

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. Cassie, our Women’s Section Editor, reminds us of the women’s rights issues that were important to us in 2019.

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

Despite progressive changes occurring throughout Ireland in this decade, findings exploring attitudes towards gender equality and domestic abuse in Ireland has proven the prevalence of toxic attitudes in young men. Ireland’s young women are still facing catcalling, sexist remarks and attitudes from peers, among other serious and intimidating behaviours.

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

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) hosted their fifth annual FemFest on 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.