We asked 5 women in Ireland what International Women's Day means to them and here's what they had to say

By Amy Nolan.

Today, March 8 marks quite a special day in the year as we celebrate International Women’s Day.

Indeed, it is an opportune time to take stock of the significant impact women both home and abroad have contributed to the fields of science, medicine, in the arts, as caregivers, homemakers and beyond.

The idea of women’s empowerment has particularly resonated with me in recent weeks having watched the film RBG – a documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman ever to be appointed to the supreme court in the US. It was honesty that consolidated the thoughtful, intelligent, cohesively human film and I was entirely enthralled by the way in which she managed to debunk limiting cultural notions of womanhood. Justice Ginsburg, now 85 and still working, has fought hard for gender equality and can be credited with significantly diminishing discrimination on the basis of sex.

What perhaps struck me most about the documentary was the fascination Justice Ginsburg holds for younger women. She has been at the centre of numerous memes labelling her “The Notorious RBG”. It seems that there is a public appetite for new role models, women who truly are a force to be reckoned with. With this in mind, I reached out to a diverse range of women from different walks of life all with the same question – what does International Women’s Day mean to you?

For stylist, creative director and fashion contributor, Courtney Smith, today is about celebrating the success of women at all levels:

“International Women’s Day to me is about celebrating not only the incredible women around the globe who are changing the world but every single woman in general. Taking note of how far we have come in a male dominant world and how much progression we have made. Women are strong; stronger than most men if you ask me and it’s great we have a dedicated day to shout about it!”


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It’s a sentiment echoed by Cork radio presenter and DJ Isabel Bartak- Healy, known to many as Izzy Showbizzy:

“International Women’s Day to me means a celebration of women and everything that we’ve achieved and continue to achieve and break new boundaries. Women are incredible and we should be celebrated every day!”


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Indeed, despite our differences, International Women’s Day has a kind of uniting feel about it and is a reminder that we have more in common than we have in distinction. Dr Adanna Steinacker who has a successful career in medicine is also a digital influencer, passionate about empowering women and taps into this idea:

“International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate women’s achievements in an effort to continue to push for gender equality. It’s a day to be recognised for all our accomplishments and everything we do for our society. It’s a day to put aside racial, sexual and class identity, to put aside all intersections and celebrate every woman for who she is. It’s a very powerful day for me.

“Every International Women’s Day is stronger than the last, with more voices being heard as we continue to push for progress. This year’s theme is #BalanceForBetter. For me this means achieving a balance in my family and work life and not denying me the opportunity to be present for both. That means flexible hours in my work place as a doctor so I can be present for my children without facing any consequences that will affect my training scheme, that also means pushing for more paternity leave for men so they can be more present domestically while we work. I want both and I will continue to push until I achieve a #BalanceForBetter.”


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So too for Maria Walsh, former Rose of Tralee and now a new candidate to the Fine Gael Party, today is a reminder to create a more sustainable society:

“International Women’s Day has grown in importance for me over the last years. As the 2014 International Rose of Tralee and now a new candidate to the Fine Gael Party running for the European Elections in the Midlands-North-West, I am reminded daily of how we need constant reminders of women, strong women, and men to continue to create a sustainable society where equality is not just a thought but a norm. I’ve travelled the world and hope to make Brussels and the Midlands-North-West my home from May 24th on and see the value in discussing what it means to be a woman, a gay woman, a political voice, a pioneer, an active volunteer, a mental health ambassador, a self-employed woman in the creative world, a new Irish voice, a young voice, a strong voice.

“The more we realize how one person, man or woman, is so much more than just their gender, their creed or orientation, the more our country and Europe will be a richer place for our young people to grow in as we continue to encourage, inspire and motivate each other to get involved and make our voices heard. Creating impact and lasting change in the boardrooms, newsrooms, political houses and schools does not happen overnight. We must continue to work at it, together.

“This day is also a day of celebrating the diversity of each other and how inclusion of the many men who support us are integral to the message of a growing environment for women across the world. In Ireland, we have work to do. Hard conversations need to be had in how to stop, not reduce but stop the gap in pay between women and men. We need to work hard and strategize on how to get more than just the statistical ask of 30% in government bodies. We also need to support our fellow women who are new to Ireland, these women, their daughters and sons are and will add a much needed voice to the culture of our country. We need a collective voice, all colours, all creeds, all orientations.”


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And for some, International Women’s Day has a profoundly special significance, as transgender YouTuber and actress Jamie O’Herlihy gave me an insight into:

“It’s been just over a year since I had the little gender marker on my passport and birth certificate changed to female. I am so proud of how far I’ve come on my journey and on this International Women’s Day I just want to say thank you to all the strong brave women, transgender and not who inspire me every day and make me a better woman.”


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Indeed today is both a day of celebration and also a chance to reflect on the kind of women that truly inspire you and represent what you think it means to be a role model.

In 2018, Irish women worked together to make history and repeal legislation which was a barrier to female bodily autonomy. We’re a pretty strong bunch when we work together – just think of what can be achieved in 2019. The sky is the limit!