In reflecting on the victory of the suffragette movement, it is important to remember that victories for women’s equality have never been easily granted; rather they have been hard fought for. The suffragettes were women who risked arrest, violence and public scorn in order to fight for justice and equality. Many of them in Ireland were also involved in the labour movement, including the 1913 lockouts and the national struggle of the Easter Rising and the war of independence.
In the past year, we have heard the demands for women’s equality grow louder across many areas of Ireland and internationally. I have worked with colleagues in the Oireachtas and civil society to demand progress on pension equality and laws to tackle violence against women and better supports for lone parents. I am continuing to press for progress in the area of gender and equality budgeting in order to ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past by unfairly increasing the inequality between men and women through poorly considered legislation.
And of course 2018 is a year where women once again take an enormous step forward for equality and justice through the referendum to repeal the eighth amendment.
Over the next months, I encourage every person in Ireland, whether woman, man, young or old to engage with this referendum, and to support compassionate healthcare for all women and girls in Ireland.