By Iseult McLister
The launch of the Irish Feminist Network took place a few weeks ago with the intention of promoting equal rights for both genders in Ireland.It was an evening packed with young women from a broad spectrum.
The Network was launched by Masters students from the Trinity Department for Women and Gender Studies. The aim of the network is to remain mainstream, up to date and relevant, highlighting inequalities in the media, politics and the poor image that feminism still has amongst the general public.
This was shown through a short film of people interviewed around the streets of Dublin giving their opinions and perceptions of what feminism means. They asked people to name important women from history and very few could name any. It documentary demonstrated the negative attidtude that many women have towards feminism, feeling that their idealogy is irrelevant. The film was made by Madeline Hawke, a post graduate student and officer for young women in the IFN.
Hawke, who is spokeswoman for the networks stated that “We want to destigmatise feminism and draw new women who are not self-identified feminists and who never thought about getting involved”.
During the launch of the network there were three speakers; Susan McKay, Senator Ivana Bacik, and Anthea McTiernan who edits the Ticket in the Irish Times. Each took their turn to explain why they saw the feminist cause as necessary in their industry of work.
One of the primary aims of the Network is to “To promote the participation and inclusion of women in politics” and with only fourteen percent of women politicians in Ireland, this is perhaps the most startling representation of inequality in Irish society.
The speakers also covered interesting facts about women and girls’ representation in the media. It was proposed that positive discrimination be put in place that would ensure that political parties must offer one third of their places to female candidates, a move which could be counterproductive in the campaign for equal rights and equal worth and would have to be treated with much sensitivity and care. Also it was suggested that pornography and female exploitation be removed from mainstream newspapers.
The topics raised at the launch served to highlight the necessity to continue the efforts of the feminist cause in Ireland and the arguments presented served to show that there is much work left to be done.
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