The preparation for this year’s International Women’s Day began when NCCWN-Donegal Women’s Network in partnership with Donegal Change Makers came together to design ‘How women make a difference in the world’ - a Gender Equality workshop.
The aim of Donegal Change Makers is to raise awareness of the links between local and global issues and to take action locally and globally for a more fair and just world.
“Working together has been inspiring, we are creating and developing a platform for women’s voices, and it’s great to get to ensure the debate about gender equality and female representation continues,” said Kate Wilkinson, Donegal Change Makers Co-ordinator.
The work of both organisations dove-tailed very well and enabled them to deliver this workshop to five women’s groups in Donegal; Ernedale Heights Women’s Group Ballyshannon, Raphoe Women’s Group, Pettigo & Tullyhommon Women’s Group, Planet Youth Young Women’s Group and the Time Out for You Group in Letterkenny (Women with Disabilities).
The age of the participants ranged from 13 years old to 86 years of age and while there was deep and meaningful discussion, as with any women’s group, laughter and fun were par for the course!
Some of the issues discussed and debated were the traditional roles of men and women’s lives, the pay gap, lack of women’s representation, body image and the pressure of the media and social media, especially on young women. There was a great richness in the sharing, older women relating snippets of their lives and experiences. “I remember well having to clean my brother’s mud-laden football boots every week,” - to the diversity of women’s lives both in Donegal and world-wide.
Each group created a number of collages to reflect the various inequalities faced by women and these were displayed at the International Women’s Day event held last week in Stranorlar.
At this event the women were invited to view the ten collages and then stand beside the collage that they identified with most. Nearly all the women chose the collage created by Planet Youth’s Young Women’s group. The girls had created a board of quotes “Just because you don’t like yourself, doesn’t mean someone doesn’t love you”; and “Don’t let looks get in the way of life”.
It’s wonderful to see young women knowing their own self-worth and not buying into all that is bombarded at them in the media. These collages can be seen on NCCWN-Donegal Women’s Network Facebook page. Each carries a strong message and they are well worth viewing.
Danielle Bonner, young woman’s advocate who co-facilitated a number of the workshops said, “I have learnt more in this past four weeks from listening to these women. It just amazes me the power of women, they are so multi-talented, so capable I don’t understand why we do not have more women in politics - they have so much to offer.”
The NCCWN Manifesto was launched at this event and copies are available from the office. The manifesto calls on all women to be prepared for candidates who come knocking on their door and to strongly consider voting for a woman.
To close the evening women discussed both women in history and those living and paid tribute to the women who had been inspirational in their lives. Some women named a sister, their mother, a single aunt, a grandmother, a friend, women who are strong community activists, women who are carers.
There was an air of serenity, deep gratitude and a great sense of solidarity with women across the world - a fitting close to this year’s International celebration, the theme of which is ‘Inspiring Change’.