There was a series of events recently to celebrate International Women's Day in Ionad An Mhachaire, Dungloe.
March 8th each year since 1911, is the date chosen to recall the struggle by women for equality. The women who fought for these rights also took on the establishment to demand the right to vote.
The evening of the 8th March 2016 was an opportune time to view the recently released movie about the suffragette movement. A group of 23 women gathered to view the movie and discuss the various topics that were so movingly covered by the film.
On Saturday 12th March there were five talks covering a variety of topics and delivered by excellent invited speakers. (These talks were organised by Emer McGee, Frances Boyle, Delia Given, Alice Roskowetzova and Maria Coleman.)
Moira Ní Ghallachóir from Fiontar mng told her audience about what it’s like for a young woman today to set up her own business. Her enthusiasm and enterprising character was an inspiration to all present. Dr. Fiona Hardy's illustrated talk was about issues faced by women in the developing countries where she has worked. The multiple threats to women and girls was grim and harrowing to hear and was a reminder that things have only improved for women in the west and for women with independent wealth. Health issues at home also came up for discussion, especially maternity care.
Liz Sheppard gave a talk about what she and her husband have done with their farm in east Donegal. Since 1980, they have planted 25,000 native trees, mostly for biodiversity and to benefit the environment. Anyone concerned about flooding, climate change and wildlife would be inspired by their activities.
Finola Brennan from the Donegal Women’s Network presented a fascinating slideshow on the Women of 1916. These women were politicised by the treatment of the workers in the 1913 Lockout and inspired by the English Suffragettes. Many more women other than Countess de Markievicz played a significant role in Easter 1916.
We saw for example, nurse Elizabeth O'Farrell, who delivered the surrender for Pearse in the Easter Rising and how she was literally airbrushed out of the photograph that captured that event. Donegal Women's Centre representative, Mary Maguire, outlined the impressive range of services provided by their center in Letterkenny. Her energy and warmth came across clearly and demonstrated the ethos of the center towards the whole range of women they cater for. Since overwhelming need dictates, their mental health services are also provide for men.
The quality of the talks and the delivery by the speakers was first class.
There are still plenty of issues for women to strive to improve. Women's health issues, equality in the workplace, childcare needs, political representation and the rights of women in developing countries. Former president Mary Robinson's focus is now on climate change and its impact on poor regions, particularly for women in these regions. Things in Ireland have changed for the better for women over the last 100 years. These days we have a different set of challenges to tackle in order to maintain and improve the lives of women over the next 100 years. There will be plenty of items for discussion for next year's International Women’s Day. Don't miss it.
Saturday 19th saw a great turn-out to a Holistic Fair organised by Rosses Healing Hands (Máire Gallagher). Máire herself did Reiki, John King did Angel Card Readings, Heike Kemmerer did Tapping, Mary Boyle did Reflexology, Rosie Doherty did Reiki and Sharon McKelvey did Kinesiology. Charlie Cullen also did a Tai Chi and Qigong demonstration.
Huge thanks to all therapists, who gave freely of their time for charity. Thanks also to Linda Ní Ghallchoir, Frances Boyle, Karen Marshall, Francie Gallagher and Maria Coleman for helping on the day and to all those who attended and contributed. Monies raised by these events will go to Donegal Women’s Domestic Violence Service and the Alzheimer's Society of Ireland.
Our pictures shows Liz Shepphard who contributed to the events.