Wednesday, March 08, 2023

By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

Hundreds of people have marched across Dublin calling for Government action on a range of issues affecting women, including ensuring their safety.

Braving plummeting temperatures, the protesters set off from the Spire, carrying signs with slogans and trans flags.

Some held Iranian flags in solidarity with the Woman, Life, Freedom feminist movement in Iran, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Tehran last September.

International Women’s Day
People march in the centre of Dublin. Brian Lawless/PA. 

Chants included “women’s rights, migrant rights, same struggle, same fight”, “the women, united, will never be defeated”, “get your roseries off my ovaries”, and “two four six eight, separate church and state”.

The crowd then gathered outside the Irish Parliament where speakers criticised the jailed social media influencer Andrew Tate and blasted the Government’s controversial decision to end the eviction ban at the end of the month.

Activist Ailbhe Smyth told the crowd that at a time when feminist gains seem to be moving backwards, “we don’t celebrate, we protest”.

She said: “We protest every International Women’s Day because the patriarchal control of women, our lives, our bodies, our freedom, is far from over, and in many parts of the world, even here in Ireland, for many, many women, that battle has barely begun.

International Women’s Day
The event marked International Women’s Day. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA.

“I am very concerned, as other speakers have been, about this backlash, this sliding backwards of our rights, propelled by the far-right extremists, fascists and Andrew Tate and his hateful ilk, and we will not tolerate that for one moment, we will stand up against it.

“I believe in particular, the future of young women and girls is at stake. We must not only hold on to the gains we made over decades and decades – it is up to us to keep fighting to advance those gains and to ensure women’s freedom and equality.”

Ms Smyth criticised the Government’s decision to end the no-fault eviction ban from March 31, and said the Government had decided to hold a referendum on removing the “dinosauric clause” in the constitution referring to women’s place in the home as a ploy to gain votes.

“On International Women’s Day, them inside behind me, many of them made very pious and sanctimonious speeches about women and their commitment to equality.

International Women’s Day
Activists in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

“But at the same time, our Government – made up of three big political parties – is bitterly, cruelly and carelessly throwing thousands and thousands and thousands of people out on to the streets.

“How dare they end the eviction ban, have they no shame of any kind?”

A representative of Akidwa – a national network of migrant women living in Ireland – told the crowd that migrant women who are the victims of domestic violence are especially vulnerable due to the threat of homelessness, uncertainty on their legal status and discrimination.

The crowd was told of transphobic and homophobic hate in Ireland, and heard criticism of “a trans-exclusionary brand of feminism”.

A representative of Women’s Collective Ireland called for public services to meet women’s needs, an end to homelessness, an investment in women’s health and for care work to be valued.

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