International Womens Day comes around each year on the eighth of March, provoking a series of events headlined by women, hashtags and quotes from a feminist icons. Partaking in the celebration is a joy and a privilege but understanding what International Women’s Day is and what it means can be confusing. There are many stereotypes projected on the day and deciding which if any applies to you can be confusing.
By definition International Women's Day is “ a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.”. The website also says that the day is focussed on celebrating women's achievements and advocating for women's equality. The events that will take place are outstanding and showcase exactly what the founders of International Women’s Day intended.
Amid the noise of ceremony and circumstance it is important to take a moment to recognise some of the facts that face women in Ireland today.
Ireland is ranked 7th among the most economically developed countries for narrowing the gender pay gap. According to a World Economic Forum report Ireland has managed to close the pay gap to 0.798 percent. Despite this the report also showed that Ireland is still behind in rewarding similar work with wage equality and estimated earned income ranking 56th in both.
The report also offered some very interesting statistics regarding the place of women in society. The report also indicates that an Irish women do as much as 2.3 times more than a man on unpaid care and domestic activities.Women are also more likely to be employed part time than men.
Politically Ireland has taken steps forward in recent years but still falls very short of equality. There are currently 36 women TD’s in a chamber of 160 bringing the percentage to 22.5%.Catherine Connolly was also elected as the first woman to take the role of Leas Cheann Comhairle. In the Seanad the percentage is higher at 40% as the formation of the Senad led to 24 women being elected from the 60 seats. At a local level women hold 22% of council seats and at a european level women represent six of the thirteen seats.
A recent study by women for election reiterated and expanded some of the barrier to women in politics. Referencing cash ,childcare, candidate selection, confidence and culture as obstacles to women in politics.These are deterrents faced by women in every part of society and step by step we are working towards equality.
One thing that often gets lost in the fanfare of International Women’s Day are the women who are too exhausted and marginalised to even remember or recognise that today is International Women’s Day. In this we must recognise our privilege of having the opportunity to take a moment to celebrate all the inspiring women in our lives, from our mothers to our friends, to the lady who once said“ you have the right to be in that room”.
International Women’s Day is about celebrating women and equality, but many of the perceived stereotypes can make it difficult to identify your branch or tribe.The key message of International Women’s Day is remember that no matter where you fit into the narrative it is vital that the core message of support and unity towards equality is not lost.
In conclusion, it is important to remember that International Women’s Day comes with much celebration and performance but amidst it all, there are many women around the world who will not benefit from one day of jubilee and the work towards equality must be a continuous process. This can only be done if everyone recognises their privilege of celebrating International Women’s Day and uses this privilege to work towards women’s equality.
Check out our International Women’s Day Podcast - In Conversation with Cllr Darcy Lonergan below or on Spotify