‘Serious’ gender gaps must be addressed before gender equality can be achieved

While major gains have been made in the last 100 years which transformed the position of women in Ireland “persistent and serious” gender gaps remain which must be addressed before gender equality can be truly achieved.

Speaking prior to the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day on Tuesday - which will be marked by a series of events at NUI Galway - Dr Niamh Reilly of the Global Women’s Studies Programme at the university said on average male workers and professionals continue to enjoy higher earnings and to occupy more senior positions in both the private and public sectors than women do.

“In Ireland especially, women are severely under-represented in formal politics and decision-making positions, women continue to carry an unfair burden of responsibility for unpaid caring work in the home, and are many times more likely than men to be subjected to domestic violence, rape and sexual exploitation.”

Dr Nata Duvvury of the Global Women’s Studies Programme says persistent underlying patterns of discrimination against women in most societies make women and girls disproportionately vulnerable to harms from extreme poverty and wartime sexual violence to human trafficking and exposure to HIV/AIDS.

“Thankfully, there are many men and women the world over who are ardent defenders of women’s human rights and gender equality. The centenary of International Women’s Day offers a welcome opportunity to celebrate their successful efforts to challenge inequalities to date and to remind ourselves that no country yet can boast a perfect record on achievement of genuine gender equality for all groups of women and for sexual minorities.”

International Women’s Day was first celebrated in 1911 when more than one million women and men attended rallies around the world campaigning for women’s rights. Now a well established worldwide event, it has become an annual fixture at NUI Galway. Its Global Women’s Studies Programme will co-host a series of events next week which will kick off on Monday at 12.30pm in Áras Moyola with a seminar by Inez McCormack, women’s and human rights activist and the first female president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions on “Women, Power and Powerlessness”.

Galway Film Society will screen the film Women without Men at 8pm on Tuesday at the O’Flaherty Theatre. It brings together on screen the personal and the political in the story of four women and the way their lives are affected by the turbulence of the anti-Mossadeq coup in Iran. Directed by Shirin Neshat, it was the winner of the Best Director Silver Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival 2009, and will be preceded by an introduction from Dr Reilly.

A celebration of the life and work of Diana Leonard (1941-2010 ), Emeritus Professor of Sociology of Education and Gender at the University of London, and founder of the Centre for Research on Education and Gender, takes place on Wednesday at 12.30pm in the arts millennium building.

A public seminar of the Gender Arc Research Alliance, which is part of the NUI Galway-UL Strategic Alliance, will take place on Friday at 1pm at Áras Moyola. It will examine historical perspectives on International Women’s Day. Speakers will include Caitríona Clear, senior lecturer in history at NUI Galway and Bernadette Whelan, senior lecturer in history at the University of Limerick.

All are welcome to these free events. For further information contact Gillian Browne at [email protected]

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