4 Things That Need To Change To Beat Sexism In Ireland

Today is International Women's Day. We're taking a look at what needs to be done to make Ireland more equal.

International Women's Day

Abortion rights

Right now in Ireland a woman only has access to an abortion if following through with the pregnancy will put her life in danger and recent stats have revealed that more than 3,500 Irish women travelled to the UK for an abortion in 2013.

Last September saw thousands take to the streets to repeal the 8th amendment but currently the government is not making moves to change the law, with Kevin Humpreys, one of Labour’s junior ministers, claiming that a change to abortion laws could be off the agenda for “five or 10 years.”

Equal Pay

Reckon women should be paid the same as men for doing the same job? Us too, but according to research from The National Women’s Council Of Ireland the gender pay gap currently sits at 14.4%, a number which has risen by nearly 2% in the past four years. To put those numbers into perspective, women essentially work for free from January right up until March, compared to our male co-workers who get paid all along.

One report suggests that this is because women tend to work in less well paid sectors and account for only a quarter of company board members, despite making up nearly half of the workforce.

Rape conviction rates

Ireland has one of the lowest rape conviction rates in Europe, with a 2014 report revealing that out of 567 rape cases which were dealt with by the Central Criminal Court in 2013 only 35 of those resulted in a conviction.

Another report reveals that only one in 10 victims of sexual assault will report the crime and of those 10 only 7% will secure a conviction. Add to that, funding to Rape Crisis Centres across the country has been cut every year since 2008.

Female representation in the government

“I’m angry that I live in a country where women are dismally under-represented in the Dáil and where people spew vitriol at you when you dare to suggest that gender quotas might be a good idea,” writes author Louise O’Neill in a recent column for The Irish Examiner.

Historically, Ireland has been chronically under-represented in terms of female TDs, with women making up only 17% of all candidates in 2007; a number which later fell to 15% in 2011.

But thanks to the introduction of gender quotas positive changes are happening, with a record 35 female TDs being elected in our most recent general election and women now accounting for 22% of all deputies, an increase which Louise Glennon of the NWCI has said is “hugely significant.”

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