Is it time for Nollaig na mBan take on a deeper meaning for women?

The National Women's Council is warning that women remain underrepresented in business and politics

Is it time for Nollaig na mBan take on a deeper meaning for women?

Leading Ladies of Trad & Folk mark the launch of TradFest 2018, at St Patrick’s National Cathedral on the Eve of Nollaig na mBan,05-01-2017. Image: Leon Farrell/RollingNews

There is debate ongoing over whether Nollaig na mBan should be retained as tradition intended - or be used as a celebration to highlight women's issues in a broader sense.

Women across the country will be celebrating the day - which translates as Women’s Christmas - tomorrow.

In the past, Nollaig na mBan was celebrated as a day when women could relax after doing the majority of work in the home over the Christmas period.

The event - which is unique to Ireland - has opened  up discussions on the meaning of the day and whether it should be re-purposed to highlight key issues for women.

The National Women's Council (NWC) for one, is calling for the introduction of gender quotas for local elections and company boards.

But writer and actor Stephanie Preissner told Newstalk Breakfast she still has mixed views about the 'holiday.'

"So there are two arguments," she said.

"One is, I don't want a day off housework, I want equal distribution of domestic chores throughout the year.

"And then there is this other side of it which is that, at the moment, it seems like women go out and get drunk with their friends and the men taxi them home or they clean up or they take down the Christmas decorations, and maybe it could be used as a platform to highlight and celebrate the enormous contribution of women to every sphere of modern life and not just in the kitchen.

"And then I was thinking, 'look, we are doing it again; we are telling women how they should celebrate this holiday.'"

This year marks the 100th anniversary of women achieving the right to vote in Ireland, with a year-long programme of events planned to highlight the contribution women have made to Irish public life.

However the NWC is warning that women remain underrepresented in politics and on company boards.

To date, women comprise just 16% of membership of ISEQ 20 company boards in Ireland - Putting the country well behind the European average of 23%.

The  NWC is calling for 2018 to be the year we improve the representation of women at senior level on private boards.

Reporting from Gail Conway ...