CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S
It’s International Women’s Day on Monday March 8. The day honours the achievements of women around the world. It’s traditionally a day for celebrating the achievements of women and advocating for women’s rights. While great strides have been made in the provision of women’s rights and equality in Ireland,women still face obstacles in the workplace, often earning less than their male counterparts, do more of the work at home, assume the greater burden of childcare, and are at risk of experiencing domestic violence and sexual assault. This has heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic and the UN theme for International Women’s Day this year is ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world’, highlighting the impact that girls and women worldwide as health care workers, caregivers, innovators and community organisers during the pandemic. Women are still fighting for equality and to ensure that their unique experience is heard. In this special report Margaret Roddy hears the stories of four women of different generations as to what it is to be a woman today.
Looking back upon her entry into politics in 2009, Cllr Edel Corrigan points that she was the first female elected for the Dundalk- Carlingford electoral area.
‘I first entered politics in 2009 for many reasons but primarily because of my belief that there is a need for a more equal, fairer society within a united Ireland’.
Since first arriving on the council she has witnessed a huge change in female representation, ‘In 2009 there were only two female elected representatives from the total of 26 that on Louth County Council, Imelda Munster and myself, in a country that had a female population of 50.3%. It is refreshing to see that today with 11 of the 29 cllrs being female almost 40% and all constituencies in Louth have a female representative. In government we need inclusivity all people not just based on gender but this has certainly been a very progressive step.
She has been inspired by what she describes as ‘ having wonderful mentors females and males personally, professionally and in the political forum’.
‘Sinn Fein have always had so many strong women. I remember especially the support and mentoring I had from Imelda Munster, Michelle Gildernew, MaryLou McDonald and still do, there are many more behind the scenes locally like the amazing Olive Sharkey, Anne Campbell
and Fiona Johnson who support so much and you don’t see.’
Generally her male counterparts have been very supportive but she points ‘unfortunately, in the past that was not the case with others outside the party but I’m glad to say there has been a positive change over the past number of years’
Working in the construction sector she says was a helpful introduction to politics as ‘ being a very male dominated, high performance and fast paced industry has helped.’
Despite being a long serving councillor she doesn’t see herself as any kind of role model, ‘ but I am very conscious how my actions or work may influence others. I would like to think that I have encouraged and supported other women to see their own potential and develop in their chosen pathway.’
Her advice to other women is simple ‘just do it, stop doubting yourself, you are more capable than you give yourself credit for. Choose to challenge.’
The decision to go into politics as a councillor has many positives, she explains ‘You are exposed to many things that you wouldn’t normally. The many wonderful people you meet and can often help someone to help themselves or better their situation.’
However she admits to drawbacks ‘when you can’t help people in the way you had hoped. It can be emotionally draining and frustrating when you have to go back to someone and you don’t have the resolution they wanted or need. Frustration of believing there is a better way of doing certain things but you don’t have the power or ability to change it. Sometimes people have a preconceived perception of a Councillor but I think that is changing with a lot more fresher faces and diversity in the chamber. We re all just people at the end of the day’.