Seanad debates

Wednesday, 6 March 2024

International Women's Day: Statements


10:30 am

Photo of Rebecca MoynihanRebecca Moynihan (Labour) | Oireachtas source

I am sharing my time with Senator Flynn.

I thank the Minister. I am delighted to see him and I welcome him to the Chamber. The statements on International Women's Day make me a little uncomfortable because, in the past few years, they have been very bound up in girlboss feminism or spend-money feminism.

Listening to Senator Keogan, I was actually reminded of why the statements are so needed and important. We now seem to have a movement not back to traditional feminism but to traditional advocates for women who want to reduce us to our reproductiveness, not choice. I did not expect in 2024 to hear a reference to Hungary as a beacon of progress. It reminds me why International Women's Day is as important as it is.

I welcome Anahit Baghshetsyan to the Chamber. I thank both her and Dara Meehan for the speech I am about to deliver.

International Women's Day provides us with the opportunity to celebrate the very significant role and enormous potential of women in our lives and worldwide. It is also a day for reflection on which we remember the many women who inspired the societal progress that is very visible today. However, on this day it is imperative that we recognise that this progress is enjoyed only by some. Gender equality and empowerment remain inaccessible to many women in Irish communities and worldwide.

While I stand here delivering my statement, young women and girls in Gaza are nowhere near celebrating their rights today, and International Women's Day will quite understandably pass without their knowing the significance of the date because they are being deprived of basic human rights, freedom, food, water and shelter. They are being deliberately starved as a weapon of war. Since 7 October, women and children have comprised about 70% of the people who have died in the region. The two women's shelters that were in Gaza are now closed and a lack of quality telecommunications and consistent electricity blackouts restrict their ability to provide services remotely. Mothers and newborns are in non-functioning maternity hospitals in Gaza. They must share beds and are discharged a few hours after giving birth. They must give birth without medication and have C-sections without medication.

Regardless of the shortage of staff and supplies, the rate of birth in Gaza since October is the equivalent of one birth every ten minutes, according to UNICEF. While talking about the progress that Hungary is supposedly making in respect of the fertility crisis, Senator Keogan did not mention the women who must give birth unmedicated in Gaza and have C-sections without pain relief. Young women and girls are far from celebrating their rights and they have been deprived of the most basic human rights. When talking about human rights for women and girls, it is important that we remember them today.

As I deliver my statement, women in Yemen are being stripped of their freedom of movement by local authorities. Those restricting them are harming their ability to access work, education, healthcare and travel. Instead of ensuring access to clean water and necessary aid, the warring parties are focusing their efforts on strengthening the barriers to women's freedom of movement. Women in Yemen are losing their right to celebrate 8 March.

It is important that we celebrate and make statements today but it is more important that we recognise the women worldwide who on Friday will still not have basic access to services. It is important that we be their voice in this Chamber, recognise them today and stand with them in solidarity on International Women's Day, knowing that progress is not being made if women face such horrific hardship in conflict countries.


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