Today local resident and President of Trinity College Student Union Lynn Ruane, asked “Why does feminism not exist in the working class and in West Tallaght?” Speaking at the #FEMPOWER feminist conference and activist fair at Tallaght Stadium today, Lynn addressed the social barriers, one of the main ones being class, when it comes to gender issues.
Lynn said that “we are locked out of the debate here in Tallaght”and said that accessible childcare is also a barrier to women from Tallaght getting involved in feminism and social issues. She gave an impassioned speech and confessed upon taking the stage as the last speaker of the day, that she had abandoned her planned speech in favour of a self-confessed “rant” about the issues facing women in Tallaght.
In a room of around 300 attendees, Lynn asked for a show of hands of people from West Tallaght, to which very few were raised. She expressed her hope that one day such an event would seem accessible to such women from working class backgrounds.
Lynn also emphasised the importance of education in the area, and highlighted a study from Trinity College that focused on the “ripple effect” of education through the working classes and disadvantaged areas. She called herself and her daughter Jordanne Jones (lead actor in I Used To Live Here) prime examples of the ripple effect. Lynn had Jordanne at 15 years old and joined An Cosan to work with people with addiction. Through the Trinity Access Program, she has gained further education, which has in turn impacted the lives of both her children.
Lynn was just one of a host of speakers at #FEMPOWER, who spoke on many issues surrounding gender equality and feminism. Hosted by Independent Senator Katharine Zappone, the event aimed to inspire real, positive change for women in our communities.
Guest speakers included Sinead Burke, who spoke about the right to choose and the eighth amendment, Moninne Griffith who discussed marriage equality and Dil Wickremasinghe who discussed the paternal tendencies in the medical system and her choice to take back the power by choosing a home birth.
Columnist Una Mullally also spoke about the effects of a media industry controlled by men and revealed that no head of any Irish TV station, radio broadcaster or newspaper is currently a woman and how this shapes our news. Rosaleen McDonagh spoke of her social issues as a woman, a traveller and someone with a disability, and encouraged the room to declare “I am a Woman.”
Maria Walsh, 2014 Rose of Tralee emceed the event and confessed to her own whisperings of the word “gay” when speaking to people publicly and how this needs to change given the Yes vote for marriage equality in Ireland. The floor was then opened to attendees to speak out about the topics discussed over the day.
Finally Senator Zappone thanked all the speakers and invited all attendees to refreshments in the next room and for further one-on-one discussions on some of the topics raised in the conference.