Tag Archive | women’s rights

Historical Donegal Women

the power of positive thinking (2)

In this Women’s Lives Women’s Voices feature Historian Dr Angela Byrne from Donegal highlights the historical struggles faced by women here in Ireland. And she pays tribute to Rose Brogan, Ethna Carbery, Máire de Paor, Maureen Wall, née MacGeehin, Kathleen ‘Kay’ McNulty and Margaret ‘Pearl’ Dunlevy, inspiring historical women with Donegal connections. 

 


By Angela Byrne

This is a good time to reflect on women in Irish society in the past and in the present. The ‘Decade of Centenaries’ and its commemorations gave the people of Ireland an opportunity to re-examine the keystone moments in our national story. Remarkable figures emerged from the shadows as we heard new stories about the women and children of the 1913 Lockout and the Easter Rising. The volunteer-run Her story Project established a series of local and national events to provide a platform for telling Irish women’s stories. One of the great successes of the recent commemorations was the naming of Dublin’s newest bridge after the republican and labour activist, Rosie Hackett. This is the first of our capital’s twenty-one bridges to bear a woman’s name.


 

0194400c0c609b470d95a4db3335e62dIn 2018, we celebrated the centenary of what Catriona Crowe has called “the single greatest human rights achievement of the entire decade of centenaries” – the extension of voting rights to women on 6 February 1918. The Representation of the People Act enfranchised some 8.4 million women across Britain and Ireland – but only property-holders aged 30 and above. In 1922, the constitution of the Irish Free State extended the franchise to all Irish women and men aged 21 and over, but for a period of four years, younger and poorer women remained voiceless.

Women’s suffrage was won after decades of effort by campaigners like Anna and Thomas Haslam of the Women’s Suffrage Association, and the more “militant” Irish Women’s Franchise League (IWFL) established by Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington and Margaret Cousins. The IWFL brought much more public attention to the women’s movement because they refused to be confined by social expectations of women’s behaviour. Tactics ranged from petitioning to window smashing. In 1909, English suffragettes in became the first to use hunger striking as a form of protest, leading to the infamous ‘Cat and Mouse Act’ of 1913, which allowed the temporary release and recapture of hunger strikers in response to public objections to force-feeding. In 1912, the Irish Women’s Franchise League established its own weekly newspaper, The Irish Citizen, which ran until 1920. In its pages, suffragists of all political shades debated their differing interpretations of feminism.

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There was a rapid growth of women’s suffrage groups throughout Ireland. In Sligo Eva and Constance Gore Booth set up a branch of the IWSGLA. By 1914 there were 26 suffrage societies with almost 3,000 members. Although committed to the same aim, these societies often represented distinct social and political groups e.g. the Conservative and Unionist Women’s Franchise Association, Irish Catholic Women’s Suffrage Society, Unionist Women’s Franchise Association. The activities of these societies were uncoordinated. In 1911 Louie Bennett (1870 -1956) and Helen Chenevix (1880-1963) helped establish the Irish Women’s Suffrage Federation (IWSF) to link the suffrage groups together. The IWSF was non-militant and non-sectarian.


On 21 November 1918, the UK parliament voted in the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act. The act simply stated: “A woman shall not be disqualified by sex or marriage for being elected to or sitting or voting as a Member of the Commons House of Parliament.” Women aged over 21 now had the right to stand for general election. Just weeks later, on 14 December 1918, Constance Markievicz became the first woman to win a seat at Westminster. She abstained in favour of sitting in the First Dáil.

 

In her celebrated 1995 book The Prospect Before Her, the historian Olwen Hufton wrote that women’s absence from history pointed to “either a grave sin of omission or to a flagrant suppression of the evidence, and hence to a distortion of the record by historians of former times. Whether the omission was unconscious or deliberate, the result was the same: women, with a few notable exceptions, had been denied a history.” Let’s celebrate our suffrage centenary by continuing to challenge that denial, to give silenced women a voice.

 


Discover some of Donegal’s Historical Women

 

Please take the time to read further features written by Angela and discover more about Donegal’s inspiring historical women by clicking on the pictures below.


“I hope that these features will raise awareness of the richness of the lives of Donegal women in the past, shine a light on their achievements, and show how they overcame barriers to education and other obstacles. Reflecting on past lives can help us to contextualise current issues and to understand changes and continuities. With that in mind, this series will focus on past women’s struggles for equality, access to education and work, and social justice.”

Dr Angela Byrne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


About Dr Angela Byrne

Dr. Angela ByrneAngela Byrne is a historian specialising in migration and women’s history. She is Research Associate at Ulster University and, in 2018-19, was the inaugural DFAT Historian-in-Residence at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum. She is author of Geographies of the Romantic North (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), A Scientific, Antiquarian and Picturesque Tour: John (Fiott) Lee in Ireland, England and Wales, 1806–1807 (Routledge for Hakluyt Society, 2018), and many articles and book chapters on the histories of travel and exploration, the Irish abroad, and women in the sciences.

She has previously held lecturing and research positions in University of Toronto, University of Greenwich, Maynooth University, and the Royal Irish Academy, as well as visiting fellowships at Cambridge University, the All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature (Moscow), and the Huntington Library (Los Angeles). Her research is concerned with cross-cultural encounters and the experiences of women and migrants in the past.

 


NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network have had the privilege of Angela giving insight into the lives of historical  Donegal women over the past few years at past events, including most recently our 2019 Balance for Better International Women’s Day Event in March, where Angela gave a talk on the political life of Letterkenny local Kate McCarry, Donegal’s first ever elected female county councillor.

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NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network have had the privilege of Angela giving insight into the lives of historical  Donegal women over the past few, including most recently our 2019 Balance for Better International Women’s Day Event in March, where Angela gave a talk on the political life of Letterkenny local Kate McCarry Donegal’s first ever elected female county councillor.


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, so please get in touch if you would like to write a feature.

Who’s For a Cup of Equali-Tea?

Gender Justice Course in Donegal Town

NCCWN-Donegal Women’s Network is a feminist organisation, we see women as equal to men and work to support the realisation of that. But Patriarchy stands in the way of achieving this, which is why we work to dismantle it!


NCCWN Donegal are pleased to be offering a free gender justice course in Donegal Town. This is an engaging and empowering informal community education course providing participants an opportunity for to begin an educational journey to raise awareness and understanding of patriarchy and gender inequality.

Over the course participants will;

  • Begin an educational journey to raise awareness and understanding of gender inequality and patriarchy.

  • Explore the roots, dynamics and nature of gender inequality/ patriarchy.

  • Make connections between women’s own experiences and how patriarchy impacts on their lives.

  • Explore the ways in which systems and structures have and can be challenged to achieve gender justice.


We are offering this course over four Tuesday morning sessions 10am-1pm start 17th, 24th Sept, 1st, 8th Oct or alternatively two Saturdays 10.30am-4pm 5th and 12th October. Sessions will be held in the NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network office in Donegal Town.

If you would like to sign up for this Free course please fill in this online form here stating which sessions would best suit you and we will get in contact with you.

 

Demystifying Patriarchy

Some highlights from our previous gender justice course delivered earlier this year.

Proposal to remove ARTICLE 41.2.1 from the Irish Constitution

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What message is Ireland sending when in 2019 the Irish Constitution (the fundamental law in Ireland) still defines women’s role in Irish society as being in the home?

Join NCCWN-Donegal Women’s Network on Tuesday 14h May, 7:00pm to 9:00pm in Donegal Women’s Centre, Port Road, Letterkenny, for an informative workshop looking at the proposal to remove ARTICLE 41.2.1 from the Constitution which refers to women and their place within the home.
This workshop is an opportunity to be informed about the upcoming referendum on article 41.2.1 and discuss gender issues relating to this.
To attend or for more info please contact on donegalwomensnetwork@gmail.com or 074 9722790

‘SORT OUR SMEARS’ CAMPAIGN

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NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network are inviting you to participant in the ‘SORT Our Smears’ CAMPAIGN, a community ‘art in activism’ project by visual artist Barbara O’Meara in collaboration with Karen Ward of Moon Mna Women’s Celtic Circles supported by the National Collective of Community Based Women’s Network’s (NCCWN)

The project is in response to the ongoing ‘Cervical Check’ Smear Test Scandal which broke last year. This ongoing scandal is affecting thousands of women across Ireland, threatening women’s health and wellbeing, and already resulted in the loss of 22 women’s lives in Ireland.

This month it was reported[1] there remains a backlog of 80,000 tests and delays of up to 33 weeks for a result. This situation is unacceptable and action is required from the government to address this situation now.

The ’Sort Our Smears’ Campaign was launched on 8th March for International Women’s Day and grassroot community workshops are currently being run to give women the opportunity through the use of art to express how you feel about the ongoing cervical smear test scandal which is impacting women’s healthcare in Ireland.

The project aim is to bring all the pieces created by women from across Ireland together to be put on Exhibition Nationally in Autumn 2019.

NCCWN Donegal are pleased to be a part of this project and will be running a number of art activism sessions in Donegal for women to participant in to express how they feel about the ‘Cervical Check’ Smear Test Scandal.

Confirmed dates include

8th May, Donegal Women’s Network, 6 Tír Chonaill Street Donegal Town; 10am-12.30pm,

9th May, Central Library Letterkenny, St Oliver Plunkett Road, 10.30am-1pm

27th May, Greencastle Community Centre, 12.00-2.30pm

Should you be a group interested in participating in a session please get in contact with us to discuss if we can facilitate one in your area too!

Places are limited so please sign up by filling in our online form here, we can also be contacted on donegalwomensnetwork@gmail.com or 074 9722790

 

To find out more about the campaign  ‘Sort Our Smears’ Campaign please see here.

For information for people concerned about Cervical Check please visit the HSE information page which can be found here.

[1] https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/harris-to-stand-over-free-tests-decision-amid-80000-backlog-37991909.html

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Some the SORT OUR SMEARS art pieces already created by women in Ireland

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