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HerStory Event

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NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network invites you to join us on Saturday 1st February 10.30am-3.15pm in the St. Patrick’s centre, Donegal Town for our Donegal Women’s ‘HerStory’ event. This event is a creative day to honour the women who inspire us and celebrate St.Brigid’s Day Ireland’s triple goddess and matron Saint.

During the day we will be joined by the Carolyn Farrar a journalist and writer who will be leading a creative writing session to celebrate women’s lives and those who inspire us. In the afternoon we will be joined by Julie Griffiths an Artist and facilitator from Donegal Changemakers who will lead a unique workshop entitled ‘Commemorative Plates’ a creative way of talking about and celebrating the women who have influenced and enrich our everyday lives.

 


The Donegal HerStory is being held in support of the national Herstory Irish women’s storytelling movement. A unique project that tells the life stories of historic, mythic and modern women that have not been told. The movements mission is to give the public authentic female role models and a game-changing egalitarian education programme, inspiring countries around the world to start their own Herstory movements. To find out more please visit https://www.herstory.ie/

 


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The Donegal HerStory event  is a day for women in to come together meet other women and share stories through a creative process, have chats and a good few laughs throughout the day. While also creating the space to reflect on the importance of ensuring women’s everyday lives, contributions and stories are both told and included in our history.


The event attendance fee is €8 with a light lunch provided, spaces are limited, so if you would like to secure your place, please fill in our online form here.

 

 

You got this

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In this month’s Women’s Live’s, Women’s Voice’ feature Sharon Doherty shares her learning experience on the importance of embracing self care and making small changes to support our health and well being.

 


Hello and Happy New Year!

 

My name is Sharon Doherty, from Quigley’s Point, Co. Donegal. As we enter a new decade, I think there is so much hope for our health and wellbeing. Here’s a little bit of my life story so far.

 

I was diagnosed with stage two invasive breast cancer on the 22nd August 2013 at the age of 37. I found the lumps myself but naively thought they were due to hormonal changes and didn’t get them checked out for almost a year.

 

While I was a little surprised, I knew I had been under a lot of pressure at work, some of it self-inflicted. I was also still grieving for my son who had passed away as a baby nine years previously. I knew in my heart these had been taking their toll. What I didn’t realise at the time of my diagnosis was just how many silly mistakes I had been making that contributed to my illness.

 


Illness isn’t even a word I really associate with it though because I never felt sick, although I was very tired a lot of the time. Having had breast cancer has brought nothing but hugely positive changes to my life. It was a real wake-up call.

 

 

On the day I was diagnosed, the consultant told me I would be returning the following week for more tests. I’ll never forget the look on his face when I let him know I was going on holiday that week and the tests would have to wait until I returned. It still makes me smile. And it was a blessing that I took that time to go away and not be panicked into treatment. I think this is really important. Not to panic or worry overly. Worry achieves nothing positive.

 


I began to read and research all things health related and I started making some small but significant changes to my life. The more I read, the more I realised just how little I knew. I was fascinated by what I was learning, and still can’t get enough. More importantly, as I implemented the changes I noticed almost instantly, improvements to my health. It was then I began to realise that we have an incredible ability to heal ourselves given the right environment.

 

When I stopped eating dairy products, headaches that I got frequently, vanished. That was the first and most startling discovery. For years I had been eating painkillers for headaches and simply cutting out dairy prevented them. Too much sugar and white flour products in my diet were contributing to dandruff, candida overgrowth and a mucousy cough in the mornings – lovely. That strong coffee driving to work was making me nervous and on edge all day and seriously damaging my immune system unbeknownst to me. A glass of wine on an empty stomach in the evening was putting further pressure on my body. All of these little things added up and on top of the stress and previous trauma in my life, became too much.

 


I was able to change so many of these things I and haven’t looked back. I thought I wouldn’t like coffee without milk. Or that I couldn’t live without cheese! But these little changes have been so easy to make. I have also started making a vegetable juice a few times a week which has massively strengthened my immune system. I make bone broth and look after my gut health. I eat a lot more vegetables and I try not to be the stress head I used to be.

 

One of my friends asked for the bullet points of what I was learning because she didn’t have the time to do all the research I was. From there, the idea for my little book was born. Simple little tips, for general health that people could easily implement into their daily lives. It has taken five years, but finally, You Got This, is in print. It’s available in the Four Masters bookshop in Donegal Town and the Bookmark shops in Letterkenny.

 


I had a mastectomy at the end of November 2013. By this time I had done enough objective research to know I didn’t want to have chemotherapy or radiation. I was unsure about the hormone drug that it was suggested I take however. I remember clearly the exact moment I decided not to take it.

 

I had spent the day on my computer and my head was full of conflicting information. Many websites pointed to all the benefits and yet the World Health Organisation listed it as a carcinogen. I simply didn’t know what to do. I looked to the sky and said out loud, “Oh for a moment of clarity.” And the answer came to me straight away. If I took the drugs, I would have absolutely no way of knowing for sure if they caused a recurrence or not. If I didn’t take the drugs, but made changes to my diet and how I was living, then perhaps I would remain healthy and not need any further treatment at all. This is what’s been happening so far.

 


I have discovered so much through this particular journey. One of the most important things is that prevention is so much better than cure and that everyone has the power to make small changes every day that might just prevent them becoming one of the worrying statistics. I think we live believing that it won’t happen to us, but it can if we’re not looking after ourselves.

 

The most exciting thing is that there is so much we can do so easily to look after our health and wellbeing. Eat good food and really enjoy it. Laugh and chat with friends, family and loved ones. Get out in the fresh air and breathe deeply. Learn new things and have experiences. Dance, sing, listen to music. Go for regular physio, massage or reflexology to release tension from the body. Have kinesiology, go to a nutritionist or naturopath and find out the root causes of little ailments in the body and make the necessary changes. Stop at times during the day and be aware of life and grateful for it. Pray, meditate, exercise moderately but regularly. Slow down!

Profile pic smallYou can find me on Facebook @yougotthishealththing

Be well everyone.

Sharon xx

 

 

 


 

NCCWN Donegal are always looking for women to share their stories and looking for women to write features on topics of their choice which we will profile as part of our Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series.

Beyond the Dáil: Will Gender Quotas Make a Difference?

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This September graduate student Danielle Brady visited the NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network office as part of her master’s thesis project research gathering. We chatted about the local realities for women running for election, breaking into politics and discussed the recent 2019 local elections and our post-election commentary were we asked Why so few Women in Donegal Politics? In October Danielle was awarded a first class Masters honours degree from Queens University for her project research. We are delighted to see a young woman such as Danielle achieve such an award, it was clear from meeting her that she has so much passion and knowledge in this area and we wish her all the best in her budding and bright future.  

 

In this months Women’s Live’s, Women’s Voice’ feature Danielle Brady shares her research on the impact of national gender quotas on candidate selection at the local level. 

 


In July 2012 the government introduced gender quotas for general elections. The introduced legislation referred to as ‘The 2012 Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act’ stipulated that state funding for political parties would be reduced by 50% “unless at least 30 per cent of the candidates whose candidatures were authenticated by the qualified party at the preceding general election were women and at least 30 per cent were men” increasing to 40% seven years thereafter.  The quotas were first used in the 2016 general election. It is difficult to conclude the full extent of their success, given that only one election has been held since their introduction. However, there are some positive signifiers, as the 2016 election saw the highest number of women both running for and elected to Dáil Eireann. But, what about local government? Have the quotas had any impact on female representation at the local level?

 


 

Although not legislated for at the local level it may be expected that the quotas at national level would result in a contagion or diffusion effect at the local level, given the fact the local government acts a “springboard” “into national politics. Research conducted by political scientists has found that those who have served in local government are better positioned to secure a seat in the national legislature. In fact, 90% of female TD’s elected in 2016 had at some stage in their careers served in local government. Given this link, it might be expected that political parties would seek to increase the number of women on local election tickets so as create a pool of candidates to select from for future general elections.

Looking at the recent local elections held in May 2019, we see an overall increase in the percentage of female candidates. In total 1,975 individuals contested the elections, 561 of which were female meaning that 28.4% of candidates contesting the elections were women, increasing from 21.6% in the previous election in 2014. Although an overall increase was recorded the extent of this varied between the political parties. As evidenced in the graph below, the four main parties Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Labour all recorded varying levels of female candidacy, increasing the proportion of women candidates at various rates.

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Despite the variation in female candidacy between parties, each party cited did increase the proportion of female candidates selected to contest the local elections in 2019. But what has contributed to this increase and can a link be drawn between this increase and the introduced national gender quotas?

Interviews with representatives from the four main parties, deduced that the quotas did indeed have an indirect impact on candidate selection for local elections. Those interviewed acknowledged an awareness within parties for a need to increase the number of women candidates at local level so as to create a pool of candidates for national election to meet the gender quota. They furthermore pointed to the role quotas played in instilling a change in culture within parties with regard to gender, whereby gender is now considered by party recruiters in a manner in which it had not previously been. However, while the quotas played an indirect role in increasing the number of female candidates, they were not the sole contributing factor. Instead further factors emerged including political mobilisation surrounding the recent referendums, whereby women who had been involved in campaigns surrounding the referendum on equal marriage and the referendum to repeal the eighth amendment, had approached political parties to put themselves forward as candidates. A third yet smaller factor also emerged; the government incentive which saw parties receive €100 per female candidate if they increased their female representation when compared to the last local elections in 2014.


 

While each of these three factors including the quotas resulted in the four main parties increasing their female candidacy, variations were recorded within each of the parties in term of geography as evidenced in the table below:

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In trying to understand why such discrepancies exist within parties two factors emerge. The issue of incumbents was cited by political party representatives and representatives from the National Women’s Council, Women for Election and NCCWN Donegal’s Women Network as a barrier to increasing female representation whereby a high number of (male) incumbents in an area creates difficulties in adding women to the ticket. Furthermore resistance from party branches at the local level was cited as barrier to increasing the number of women candidates. Such resistance is not exclusive to gender promotion but rather tends to exist towards directives given from national level or HQ to constituency branches.

Although the quotas do appear to have had a positive indirect impact on candidate selection at local level, the extent of this impact differs both between and within the four main political parties. Furthermore the quotas were not the sole contributor to the increase in proportion of female candidates with political mobilisation surrounding the recent referendums and the government incentive also playing a role. Despite the positive influence of these factors women continue to be underrepresented both in terms of candidacy and elected officials with women accounting for just 24% of councillors. Thus, measures must be taken to ensure greater female representation in local government.

 


About the author: Danielle Brady has recently completed a Master of Arts in Politics in Queen’s University Belfast, having graduated from Maynooth University in 2018 with a degree in Philosophy Politics and Economics. The above piece is based on research carried out for her Masters dissertation with the same title.


 

NCCWN Donegal are always looking for women to share their stories and looking for women to write features on topics of their choice which we will profile as part of our Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series.

When Life Changes Your Plans

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How do you recover when your life and way of living is thrown off course?

In this Women’s Live’s, Women’s Voice’ feature Sarah shares her story and unique journey to create a new life for herself and family in Donegal after a major life change.

 


 

Sarah is a yoga teacher and essential oil educator in Donegal. She supports women who are exhausted, stressed & overwhelmed. Through her approaches she supports women how to learn to revitalize their energy and reduce stress so they not only feel amazing but feel recharged and refreshed, ready to embrace life.

 

 

3My story begins in November 2015. Living in New York with my husband and 2 children. My husband was not legal and we tried to get him a Greencard or visa so he could legalise his status. We both had great jobs, I had just became a partner in a Bar and Restaurant and Hughie – a foreman for a construction company that he had worked for since first coming to New York in 2001. We had just moved into our home that we purchased in 2014. Our hard work was finally starting to pay off. Success was here and now our American Dream was commencing! We had everything we wanted, our beautiful children, our home and the Careers we strived for.

 


 

ICEOne morning in November as Hughie was going to work, he left our house like always at 6am to be met by Immigration Law Enforcement – ICE. Immediately he was arrested, taken into Manhattan for booking and transferred to Jersey to a detention Centre. He was getting deported! Our life was ruined! We were completely devastated and fought to the very last minute of getting on the plane to stop this deportation. Having one week to pack up our life, our home and leave the country we had both known & loved for 14 years, The Country our kids were born in, We arrived back in Ireland Thanksgiving morning (ironically)

 


 

The first year was a complete blur, we were still living in a little bit of hope that this nightmare would be over and we would be back in NY, we searched for someone that could help us, hopes were lifted and then dropped so quickly that it was a roller coaster ride of emotions each day. It was the closest to rock bottom that I had ever been emotionally. I was running on empty. I couldn’t sleep and when I did manage to sleep I would wake up in the middle of the night with that heavy heart realising that the nightmare was real.

A year went by and we were still on the hunt to get someone to help, we tried countless lawyers and anybody we encountered for help. Living in Ireland was just not in our life ́s plan. We were shattered. For the next two years I would go back & forth to NY, leaving my kids for weeks at a time to work in the restaurant and help out as much as I could, especially during the busy periods of Christmas, Easter etc so needless to say missing out on school plays, major events in my kids’ lives. We had the house so I had to organise repairs etc. Dealing with tenants etc… It was hard but overtime it became the new norm for all of us. Then my time in Ireland consisted of being a stay at home mom. Looking back I had to live two lives!

 


 

Over time…. This was starting to crumble, I couldn’t maintain this lifestyle. We had to let go…. it was eating us alive and we had two wonderful kids that were just happy being with mom and dad.

So I decided to become a yoga teacher, I always loved the practice of yoga and was a member of a fantastic yoga studio while living in NY. So I picked a teacher training in London and commuted back and forth so I wasn’t away from my kids too much. Once I completed my course, it took me 6 months to pluck up the courage to teach my first class… after that I never looked back. I began teaching classes in my local area going from one village to the next. Starting to get a following I started to see how I was helping people believe in themselves. Seeing these women feel stronger mentally and physically was bringing  joy to my heart.

 


 

So now here I am currently with a great yoga business in Donegal, I added essential oils into my business and the combination of both are amazing!  I love my life! I love being a stay at home mom while also having my yoga business which I love. I still go to NY during the summer with my kids so they don’t lose sight of where they came from and give them the best life I can provide to them by having the best of both worlds.

I don’t work in the Restaurant business anymore and that was a blessing in disguise,  so now I enjoy all the holidays with my kids and I work around the school calendar. I have created the life and business I have always wanted!

 


 

2So this quote will close my talk perfectly….. “what if the worst thing that happened you ended up being the best thing that ever happened to you”. So if you take anything from this story…. Take this advice… ACCEPTANCE is what got me through this ordeal. When I accepted what had happened and nothing was going to bring back the life we longed for, things started to happen. The pining thoughts for my old life started to melt away, I began to focus on how to make my current situation and life into a life that I have always dreamed of. I realised how Strong I actually was as a woman and the powerful woman in me started to show up everyday.

So go with the flow even in times of doubt or when you think life is not going your way!! Everything is happening around us….. For us!

 


NCCWN Donegal are always looking for women to share their stories and looking for women to write features on topics of their choice which we will profile as part of our Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series.