Choose to challenge on International Women’s Day 2021

Niamh Quinlan

International Women’s Day is Monday 8th of March, with this year’s theme being #ChooseToChallenge. The aim is to challenge gender bias and inequality while still choosing to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements across the world.

Countless Irish women have challenged and achieved so much over the course of time. From Countess Markievicz and Hannah Sheehy-Skeffington to Mary McAleese and Veronica Guerin, and even back to Gráinne Mhaol, Irish women have been challenging gender norms and biases in a country where we were second class citizens for the longest time.

A national day to celebrate women first happened in New York in 1909, however, the modern International Women’s Day comes from a protest held in Germany on March 8, 1914, to obtain the right to vote. They achieved this in 1918.

That same year, the UK gave the right for women above 30 to vote, while men could vote at 21. Equal voting rights were given upon the 1922 separation of the Irish Free State from the UK.

However, in Ireland, between 1932 and 1973, women couldn’t be married and employed at the same time. Their place was in the home.

Contraception, in the form of the pill and even condoms, was illegal until 1979. Abortion was just legalised in 1979.

With the recent publication of the report from the Commission of Investigation into the Mother and Baby Homes, the true dark history of women who were seen and treated in Ireland was revealed, and the price they and their children paid.

But overcoming all that has been thanks to the work of brilliant Irish women. Our feminism was fostered from a young age and any of our plights have been brought to the forefront thanks to the bravery of women.

So, this International Women’s Day, we remember those who have gotten us this far: the women already mentioned and so much more, Mary Robinson, Nell McCafferty, Catherine Coreless and Woman X, who established the right for abortion if a woman’s life is endangered by the pregnancy, in 1992.

Modern women to look up to and are continuing to foster the minds of young feminists include Róisín Ingle, host of The Irish Time’s Women’s Podcast, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and advocate for student nurses, and Razan Ibraheem, journalist and activist who was a key speaker at a UN Geneva conference about the Migrant Crisis of 2016.

Former model and current charity worker, Roz Purcell, hosts the Bite Back podcast, in which the main discussion is around loving your body. Dr Ebun Joseph co-founded and coordinated the first Black Studies module in Ireland at UCD.

The strive for change comes from choosing to challenge as the women have and continue to do. Don’t forget to join in and celebrate your female or female adjacent friends, family and role models this International Women’s Day.

Niamh Quinlan

Image Credit: Pinterest

Note: This article was reuploaded on 24/03/2021 due to a fault with The College View website.