National conference for women looks to future of feminism post-Trump

#Femfest tackles issues of sexuality, consent and gender equality

The role of the women of 1916, the barriers young women face today and planning for that feminist future are all up for discussion at today's #FemFest.

The major conference organised by the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) looks to bring young women together to discuss issues affecting them, as part of the State’s official programme to commemorate the events of 1916.

Activist Ailbhe Smyth and Repeal Project founder Anna Cosgrave acted as chairs for the day's discussions.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said, “At a time when many people feel they have been failed by politicians and the political system, it is inspiring to see so many young women here today who are looking to feminism as an alternative.

“If we want to progress with feminism and create a different world for our daughters, we need to leave the comfort of our echo chamber. We need to start having conversations with folks in our lives who may not necessarily view feminism as important, or even valid. Empathy is where the core of this kind of social progress lies – it takes time, and conversation, and patience."

Women's involvement in the 1916 Rising, and the challenges they faced as a result of their participation were also discussed.


Zappone on the Eighth Amendment, Smith on gender quotas

Independent TD Katherine Zappone said she in favour of legislation on abortion "that doesn't include specifics on rape, indent and fatal foetal abnormalities" at the event.

"The statistics change, but not quickly enough, and not always in the direction we want," she said. "I understand the impatience for change when it comes to repealing the Eighth [Amendment]."

The Minister for Children has previously come under fire for her unpredictable stance on abortion, having initially voiced support for the Repeal the Eighth campaign. She voted against a Dáil motion to repeal the constitutional ban on abortion.

People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith discussed gender quotas at the event in the Science Gallery on Pearse Street, and encouraged young people to get involved in activism. 

"Get out, shout join groups, fight for your rights", she said. "The more you do that, the more you undermine sexism.

"New feminism is very encouraging. I was a feminist in much harder times, in the horrible 80s", she said. "It's great to have our voices in there [the Dáil] - for men and women and the wider community. We will get an end to the domination of men in politics when we drive politics through activism. That's what women do - they do things.

"Until parliament becomes a representation of doers rather than big mouths, then we're going to have that imbalance. I'm not against gender quotas, but I don't think they're the solution."