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Girl power: Irish feminist conference sold out

Feminism conference aims to open the dialogue between all generations of feminists.
May 18th 2012, 6:40 PM 4,695 167

IRISH FEMINISM IS alive and well – tickets to an Irish feminist conference taking place tomorrow have sold out.

Feminist Activism in Ireland: Past, Present and Future’ organised by the Irish Feminist Network will discuss the role of successive feminist movements in Ireland and aims to create a dialogue between the generations of feminists.

Guest speakers at the day-long conference, include Dr Mary McAuliffe, President of the Women’s History Association of Ireland, UCD Women’s Studies Dr Margaret Ward and Susan McKay, the former CEO of the National Women’s Council of Ireland.

The keynote addresses will be made by Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald and CEO of Akina Dada wa Africa (AkiDwA – Swahili for sisterhood), Salome Mbugua.

IFN coordinator Alison Spillane told TheJournal.ie that there is real energy around feminism at the moment with organisations like the IFN and Cork Feminsta popping up:

There has been a particular interest from young people in the feminist movement and we wanted to harness that and increase the dialogue between the generations of feminists.

Past generations of women have had a much harder fight than us, with pre-independence, no voting rights and family planning, so we wanted to acknowledge that and also to learn from it.

She acknowledged that there are negative connotations sometimes associated with the word ‘feminist’ but stated that feminists are for men’s rights as well as women’s rights:

We would like people who have pre-conceptions of what feminism is to try and suspend them and come along to our events, men too. We are proud to call ourselves feminists.

Women in Ireland have suffered many hardships such as not having the right to vote but there are still struggles for women today such as the lack of representation in politics and the reproductive rights of women. The current status quo is not good for anyone, men or women.

Men can still feel pressure to be the bread-winner and that is not right either. Feminists are firm advocates of father’s rights. Things like parental leave should be available for all – both parents should be able to avail of it and neither should have to sacrifice their careers.  We are coming from the perspective of equal rights for everyone.

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Christina Finn

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