IT’S International Women’s Day today, a day to celebrate women and their contribution to society and I’m proud of women today.
I’m proud of the women in my life who are published authors and those who have won and been shortlisted for awards.
I’m proud of the women in my life who put themselves forwards for political office and won a seat their first time out.
I’m proud of the women in my life who are marine biologists and college professors and journalists.
I’m proud of the women in my life who are LGBT and are living their lives without shame, with great dignity and strength.
I’m proud of the women in my life who are parenting alone.
I’m proud of the women in my life who are mothers, raising the next generation. And I’m proud of the women in my life who do not want to be mothers. And I’m proud of the women in my life who want to be mothers but for whom that miracle hasn’t happened yet. They are all warriors.
I’m proud of the women in my life who have lost children and the women in my life parenting children with disabilities, who continue on every day with great tenacity.
I’m proud of the women in my life who are bloggers – carving out a little corner of the internet for themselves, using their skills and life experience to put their mark on the world and in some cases who are winning awards and making a living from blogging.
I’m proud of the women in my life who have gone back to college to retrain as midwives and childcare professionals, those who study while working full time or holding a family together.
I’m proud of the women in my life who are activists – who campaign tirelessly for women’s rights, for children’s rights, for everyone’s rights. Those who march and picket and shout out loud.
I’m proud of the women in my life who battle illness and disability every day, be it visible or invisible.
I’m proud of the women in my life who are funny and kind and compassionate and who listen and care and have hearts spilling over with love.
I’m proud of all the women in my life – no matter their story.
I’m proud of myself, too.
A year ago this month I took my last antidepressant tablet, after living with post natal depression for almost two years. I was ready. A year on I’m still medication free and depression free.
So I have a lot to be proud of, a lot of incredible women in my life, a lot of incredible friends. But as well as being proud, I’m also angry.
I’m angry that I had to title this piece ‘International Men’s Day is November 19’. It might seem petty but every year it’s the same, we hear more about International Men’s Day on March 8 than we do on November 19. It’s offensive, to some, that women get a day to themselves. God forbid.
I’m angry that in Ireland in 2016 women do not have access to free, safe and legal abortion.That each year 4,000 women a day leave our shores to access healthcare overseas.
I’m angry that in Ireland men can walk into a vasectomy clinic and take care of their reproductive rights permanently, for free on the medical card, yet the equivalent isn’t true for women.
I’m angry that it is estimated that the gender gap that currently exists worldwide won’t close until 2133 that we’re depressingly still more than 100 years away from that.
I’m angry that around the world gender-based violence causes more deaths and disabilities among women of childbearing age than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined.
I’m angry that around the world girls as young as 12 are being forced into arranged marriages often with men 30 years their senior and forced into childbirth long before they are mentally or physically ready.
I’m angry that it’s ‘boys will be boys’ but girls are sluts; that we teach women how not to be raped instead of teaching men how not to rape; that conviction rates and prison sentences for rape are abysmal.
I’m angry that the voices of good men, our allies, are often drowned out by louder men who don’t want to listen; I’m angry that there are not more good men. I’m angry that in many cases we’re expected to apologise to men for being angry about this. I’m angry that more men don’t realise that this is their issue too, their problem too.
I’m angry about the plain inequality of it all.
For the day that’s in it though, I want to try to direct my anger in a more positive way so in honour of International Women’s Day I’ll be donating to the Parents for Choice #40daysforchoice campaign, raising money to help Irish women access abortion abroad. I’ll also be donating to the Saoirse Women’s Refuge which works with women who have suffered from domestic violence and the Because I Am A Girl campaign from Plan Ireland, working to empower and educate girls and women worldwide.
If you can, please donate too, to these causes or any other that means something to you.
Happy International Women’s Day – here’s to strong women: may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.