Celebrating Trinity’s women who wow

Leanne Healy profiles three women who inspire the college community

Esme Dunne

Esme Dunne, a second year College student, is involved with EmpowerHer*Voice; this is a fantastic initiative which Dunne describes as a “global community-based platform for anyone and everyone who has been subjected to misogynyciswomen, transwomen, women of colour, white women, disabled women, non-binary people. Actually, we use the asterix in our name to highlight that all groups encountering gender-related marginalisation that don’t use the pronoun ‘her’ are welcome in our community”.

Dunne describes the “overarching aim” of  EmpowerHer*Voice is “to provide a space of collaborative and productive dialogue that brings together artists, creatives, activists, and academics. The voices we platform are typically marginalised or silenced by societywe feel that those on the margins of representation are in the best position to critique the dominant image”.

“Her ‘dream for EmpowerHer*VoiceDublin is that it becomes a strong community—a safe space. Somewhere to find solace and support, to learn, to empower and be empowered’.”

Dunne explains how the main goal of EmpowerHer*Voice is to “reshape our shared reality, but that’s pretty big. I don’t think you can go into this kind of thing focusing on the end resultyes, it’s good to know where you’re heading, or hoping to head, but I think with advocacy work if you try to tackle absolutely everything wrong with the world you’ll be so overwhelmed you won’t get anywhere”. Her “dream for EmpowerHer*VoiceDublin is that it becomes a strong communitya safe space. Somewhere to find solace and support, to learn, to empower and be empowered”.

Dunne has been involved with EmpowerHer*Voice for years; she explains how EH*V “was started at my school as a society in 2015, and in 2018, in my final year of school, I was the director of the branch.” Dunne expresses how she has “always had a lot of opinions; I care a lot, I’m angry about almost everything, and I want change.” Dunne explains how she was “craving a community” and her “mental health at school was incredibly turbulent, and EmpowerHer*Voice came to me at a time I really needed it. I needed the support and the divine feminine energy!”.

When discussing her future plans, Dunne explains how there is “so much I want to do! Currently we are trying to build a teambut I want it to reflect our mission. We aren’t EH*VTCD, we’re EH*VDUB, and so trying to get the word out is imperative, although it’s proving difficult. But on the whole, I envision EH*VDUB as a community, hosting events and talks which raise money for charity. I want to have talks on sexual assault, body image and eating disorders, host film screenings, poetry readings, gigs.”

To any person looking into getting involved in advocacy work, Dunne’s advice is “go for it. Just jump in. It can be hard, but it’s so rewarding, and so important. Look for a community or organisation that reflects your values, or create one yourself. Maybe start with conversations with your friendsI think that starting small helps you find your feet and gain confidence. But ultimately, I would really encourage people to get involved in advocacy work because inclusivity is everything. And EH*VDUB is currently looking for members, so if our mission appeals to you, we would love to have you!”.

Eva O’Beirne

Eva O’Beirne, a third year student, is a successful journalist who has burst onto the Irish journalism scene, making great strides by writing pieces on relationships, sex, and current affairs.

O’Beirne explains how she has “always been attracted to words and writing down my thoughts. I was really really shy as a child and I am still quite an anxious person now, so writing down what I feel has always helped me make sense of what I’m feeling.” Looking back on her beginnings as a journalist, O’Beirne recalls how she “didn’t actually commit to being a journalist until my second year of college. I was always inspired by fictional female writers and fancied myself as a Dublin version of Carrie Bradshaw. There’s a certain glamour associated with being a writer and I think it comes from the perspective of not being afraid to voice an opinion”.

She explains how she “always wanted to write in some way but I didn’t realise that journalism could be a career for me. I still have severe imposter syndrome, especially when one of my pieces goes viral or someone I really admire interacts with it. My family is working class and I’m the first person who could afford to be a ‘creative’ which can be quite scary but my family are so proud of me”.

When describing how she comes up with her next idea, O’Beirne explains how she can “find it hard to turn off my brain when it comes to writing or wanting to pitch ideas. You can catch me researching or daydreaming about topics I want to write about a lot. I do have a certain niche of sex, relationships, women’s reproductive health and women’s history and those topics certainly inspire a large amount of my articles”.  She “enjoy[s] communicating what is happening in the world to people, especially the news that people may not be immediately aware of”.

Many writers face an extreme amount of rejection when breaking into the world of journalism, with O’Beirne describing it as “horrible, plain and simple. And it is so hard not to take it personally”, however she “channelled all [her] frustrations in creating new opportunities for [herself]”. O’Beirne explains how “rejection doesn’t stop when you get your work published or accepted though. You have to face rejection constantly on social media from people who don’t realise you see their harsh comments. She admits that she “can have very low self-esteem and learning not to depend on validation from others was vital to my journalism career”.

“Take time to be proud of yourself and everything that you’ve done. Don’t compare yourself to others, focus on what you can do to expand your skill set, and ask for help if you don’t know where to go next.”

When asked what advice she would give to a person hoping to start a career in journalism, O’Beirne emphasises: “don’t doubt what you’re capable of. It is too easy to not think that you’re not good enough to submit your work. Always keep an eye out for opportunities. Don’t take criticism too personally. Take time to be proud of yourself and everything that you’ve done. Don’t compare yourself to others, focus on what you can do to expand your skill set, and ask for help if you don’t know where to go next.”

Francine Ibeh

Francine Ibeh, a second year student, is the current chairperson of The Udoma Subcommittee of the Phil. The Udoma currently consists of Ibeh and her fellow subcommittee members, Annika Ramani & Aeva-May Conway. Ibeh explains how “the Udoma aims for representsenation students of colour and ethnic minorities in the spheres of public speaking, debating and discourse.” Ibeh emphasises how the Udoma is “giving a space to ethnic minorities to speak about their own personal experiences. In Trinity there has been a large emphasis on bringing experts to speak about themes such as racism, discrimination and marginalisation but oftentimes you don’t need experts to give an account or to explain these issues because many people in Trinity are going through these things and they are the experts in their own personal lives.”

Ibeh highlights how “the Udoma does not generalise a particular experience or say that all ethnic minorities go through a particular thing, but there are definitely recurring themes, issues and experiences that many ethnic minorities and students of colour facenot just within Trinity. It is highlighting that peer to peer experience and encouraging people to get involved in public speaking and debating”. 

Ibeh, a keen debater, “has been debating ever since [she] was 11 years old and started in primary school.  She explains how she “got into debating because I am quite a competitive person by nature”. To Ibeh, debating “requires you to listen to what someone is saying to point out the strengths and weaknesses in someone’s argument and it allowed me to hone in and develop my analytical skills.” Her secondary school debating team consisted only of boys “who were one or two years older”, and as a result of this Ibeh  “felt like I had to prove myself”. The biggest piece of advice Ibeh could give when it comes to getting started in debating is “to just be confidentget in there and do not wait for someone else to do it if you want to get into it.”

“Ibeh urges people to not let these things “define your presence or your ability in anything you do—not just in the world of debating. You deserve to be in the room.”

Ibeh explains how she was “used to being the only unique person in a room”, reflecting back on times when she “was the only girl who was debating”. Ibeh describes how she “would oftentimes be one of the only public schools debating in competitions. I was the only mixed-race girl in my year which consisted of 240 students, so I have always been in an environment where I am the only person of a particular typewhether gender, race, ethnicity, socio-economic backgroundso that experience has taught me to definitely be confident and go for it.” Ibeh urges people to not let these things “define your presence or your ability in anything you donot just in the world of debating. You deserve to be in the room.”