What women want: power, love, equality, better sex . . .
. . . abortion rights, a few days off a month, an end to pornification, not to be called ‘honey’, Putin’s head on a stick . . .
Women celebrate International Women’s Day. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons
At Leinster House in January, Senators Ivana Bacik, Marie Moloney and colleagues mark the election in which women first had the right to vote, and in which Constance Markievicz was elected as the first woman TD and MP. Photograph: Eric Luke
Abortion rights campaign postcard sent to members of the Oireachtas. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy
No more ironing
Ahead of International Women’s Day on Saturday, we asked female readers to tell us what they want. Here is a selection of their responses.
DR MAEVE MARTIN Co Tipperary
I am a fiftysomething, Irish, professional woman. I am still married, for better or worse, to the man I met, lusted after and married at the age of 22. We have four wonderful children and two grandchildren. What I want now is what I wanted 30 years ago: a whole and complete sharing of an adult and family life. That means when you commit to live your lives together and bring new lives into the world, you do this as equal partners. This means sharing the housework, the childcare and all the extended family issues that develop with time. This also means that our Government finally understands this and introduces “parental leave” rather than “maternal leave” as a basic right.
RACHEL McGUINNESS Dublin
I would dearly love to see an end to the pornification of women. A never-ending stream of images, videos and editorial content of women in highly sexualised context is mainstream, and it has to stop. It is damaging our young men and women’s self worth. Bring on the backlash. I am ready.
MARY CARTY Meath
As an entrepreneur in technology, I want a change in attitudes, such as the one that suggests a woman is solely responsible for childcare once a baby comes into the family. And an end to constant questions such as: how will you manage a full-time job? Who are you getting to look after junior?
CIARA McDANIEL Sligo
Female colleagues. I work for a software development company, and, of the 65 technical roles in the company, only 11 are held by women. Some 100,000 people work in science, technology and research in Ireland, but only 26 per cent of these are female (source: siliconrepublic.com/careers/item/35377-wit2013). I want to end the stereotypes that science and technology related careers are better suited to men than women. I want greater media exposure of successful women in the technology sector. I want Irish schools to promote Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) to their female students in an accessible, interesting way. When I go to a work meeting, I want to stop being the only female in the room.
MARIAN O’SHAUGHNESSY Limerick
Mothers to rear their sons to be able, independent and fair-minded – too many boys are having too much done for them. Raise daughters the same, but with caution to value their careers. More women must stop “playing house”, forget the island in the kitchen and get involved in politics.
BETH O’NEILL Wicklow
I want for more of the public to not ascertain such negative connotations from the word “feminist”. To paraphrase a quote often found on the web, “feminism is the radical idea that women are humans too”. It is truly remarkable how many men and women who believe that feminists are all “man haters”. If you are a woman, and you believe that you should be treated equally in every respect as a man, than you are a feminist, and if you are a man who doesn’t harbour medieval ideals of the opposite sex, than you too could be considered a feminist. World peace, and Putin’s head on a stick would be great as well.
KERRY GUINAN Dublin
A repeal of the Eighth Amendment to allow for full abortion rights. For abortion to be treated as a healthcare issue, not a legal or moral one.
CATHERINE HOWARD PICKETT Dublin
True equality, please. We’re nearly there on wages, but, at home, why do we revert to stereotypes? Are we really just control freaks who want everything or are we just left to take in the lion’s (or lioness’s) share of household management? Are we suffering from genetic predisposition or is it male laziness? Or have we inherited another generation of mammy’s boys who don’t know how to take on 50 per cent of home responsibility? I’m so proud of our household and our 50-50 division of labour, but we seem to be the exception.
AISLING PEARCE Kildare
Childcare that is tax deductible. It’s a double tax that is anti-family and anti-enterprise. So many parents are being priced out of the jobs market because of such a huge overhead, which creates less tax revenue overall and a poverty trap for those who want to work but can’t.
REBECCA LLOYD Tipperary
To be able to look after my kids and to be able to work. I am smart and have loads of experience, but my children need my help after school with homework. If I could job-share or work part time, I would be delighted. Unfortunately, these jobs don’t appear to exist.
KAREN McINTYRE Donegal
Full reproductive choices, abortion and contraception to be free for all women in Ireland. Better sex, consent, and relationship education for young people. Removal of the tax on tampons: they are not a luxury. Equality for men and women in all aspects of life and work. I’d like to be able to walk around at night without the fear of being attacked or raped, but that is an issue men have to deal with, not women. If I could only have one thing for the women of Ireland, it would be full reproductive choices. I’m extremely tired of old men in suits telling women how to live their lives and what options are open to them.
I’m a waitress and I want men to stop baby-talking me. “Thanks, beautiful.” “Cheers, honey.” If you would not call a barely acquainted man “beautiful” or “honey”, don’t call a woman by those names.
ANDREA MARA Co Dublin
Every woman should be able to choose to work full-time and progress her career, or to stay at home with her children if she is a parent, or to do anything else in between. Women are being pushed to the extremes of full-time, in-the-office, inflexible work, or giving up altogether, which doesn’t benefit anyone. And we definitely want more affordable childcare. Then we could pay for perfect hair.
MARGARET RYAN Co Meath
More women politicians. More flexible working hours for men so they can participate more fully in rearing their families. Consequently women could progress more in their careers, thus bringing about a more balanced workplace. More money invested in education.
NOELEEN CRONIN Cork
I would like to see women believe that the path they choose, at whatever stage in life, is the right one for them. While we relish the idea of more powerful women, that power can be achieved by each woman as an individual, whether it is in the boardroom or in the kitchen.
SHEELAGH HANLY Roscommon
Grants for women so they can return to college when their children are reared.
JESSICA HYLAND Dublin
Equal representation, equal respect and equal opportunities. The right to decide for myself when and if I have children, and for that right to be respected by all. The right to look and to dress how I want, without assumptions being made about my worth or intelligence. I want to be an equal and valued member of society, not a token and not a pretty prize.
EMER O’DONOVAN Cork
I want more female politicians and businesswomen – more female role models in Irish public life who are respected for their talents, intelligence and acumen, and for commentary not to focus on their appearance and personal relationships.
RACHEL MEAGHER Dublin
Women aren’t supported in Irish culture. Being a 21-year-old female, I’m told to cover up and wear more clothes to prevent others feeling the need to rape me, yet on the other hand told that if I don’t look attractive, I’ll end up single. Everyday changes are needed. Why, when I’m in Copper Face Jacks, do I need to make up a boyfriend instead of “no” being taken as an answer?
CLAIRE BRADLEY Dublin
More women politicians, especially under 50. Actual equality in all workplaces Better childcare options (though it does not affect me) and no loss of career prospects for women who take maternity leave. To be treated with respect. Non-alcohol based cafes open late at night – I don’t always want rubbish tea in a pub. More female protagonists on television and in film: I’m sick of watching shows that have women as incidental characters or plot devices. To never have to iron again.
BREDA SHIEL Galway
I want to see women treated like human beings, with autonomy in our maternity services. No means no in relationships and in hospital. I spent the other night reading the “your say” comments on the Aims (Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services) Ireland Facebook page. Stories such as these take us back to Magdalene laundries. Women held down for vaginal exams in Irish hospitals in this decade. Women treated like pieces of meat. And worst of all the media think it is at best “normal” and at worst funny. Just because our laws give equal right to life, does that mean doctors and midwives have free rein to do what they want to pregnant women?
CATHERINE McCARTHY Co Cork
I would like a safer society for women. A great number of my friends and I do not feel safe, particularly if we are out at night. We should be allowed carry items such as pepper spray to defend ourselves. I would also love a few days off each month when we have our period.
JOANIE HUTCHINSON Co Waterford
I would like to see women begin to look within themselves and become less focused on the exterior, to really get to know themselves and their gifts. It would be wonderful if we were nicer to each other and less judgmental too. We are so caught up in the latest trends, what other people are doing, juggling family life and being particularly hard on ourselves we have lost sight of our true selves.
THERESA McKENNA Co Meath
It’s very simple: we want to be loved.
SUZANNE LEE Belfast
To not face 14 years in prison because I made the choice to have an abortion in the country I live in.
AISLING McKENNA Co Dublin
I want women to be nicer to each other. The times I have felt most vulnerable and unsure about my identity as a woman have almost always been because of the actions or opinions of other women. The subtle and silent glance up and down at what a woman is wearing; who’s a “bitch”, who’s not a “bitch” – you could be considered a “bitch” simply by virtue of being successful, pretty, opinionated, wealthy, slim, or God forbid, a feminist. All women have so much to gain if we kick the habit of being mean and judgmental towards each other . Let’s
stop. Let’s be nice.