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President marks Brigid’s Day with announcement of event to take place on International Women’s Day in Áras an Uachtaráin

Date: Tue 1st Feb, 2022 | 16:20

President Higgins to host meeting of key organisations to consider the contribution which they can make to strengthening gender equality.

President Michael D. Higgins has announced that he and Sabina Higgins will host a special event on International Women’s Day, 8 March, which will bring together a wide range of organisations at Áras an Uachtaráin to consider together what contribution they can make as a group to strengthening gender equality.

The President’s Office will be inviting those bodies which took part in an event in the Áras in 2016 for UN Women’s HeforShe Campaign, as well as other relevant bodies, to attend or send a representative to the seminar. The President was appointed as a United Nations HeForShe Champion in 2015, in support of UN Sustainable Development Goal number 5 - to end gender-based violence.

Amongst those that will be invited will be unions and employers, public sector bodies, sporting organisations, cultural bodies, educational institutions and student representatives, women’s groups and human rights advocates.

The President, who will address the event, will ask the bodies to reflect and prepare in advance of the seminar on actions they can take to strengthen gender equality in their sector so that together we might achieve positive change in Irish society more broadly.

Announcing the initiative, President Higgins said:

“For centuries, Irish people have marked the first day of February with a celebration of Brigid, from the ancient goddess to St Brigid. I would like to send my warmest wishes to all the women of Ireland on this special day as we look forward to the new beginnings which spring brings.

There are two groups for which this year’s Brigid’s Day will be recalled in future as having a special significance. Undocumented women and their families in light of a recent Government decision will welcome rights of residence. Women in the Traveller and Roma community will welcome the vindication of human rights for their community that has been expressed in a Supreme Court decision on the matter and which must guide all local authorities.

Of course, the last two years have been very difficult for all of us, and it is appropriate that we remember today the very special contribution and challenges which women have made throughout the pandemic. There have been very particular challenges for many women, for example those working as carers or in our hospitals, nursing homes and homes, and the particular impacts which the pandemic has had on the women working in sectors such as our hospitality industry. 

We are very mindful especially of the very real threat which many women in abusive relationships have faced during the periods of lockdown.

The tragic events of violence against women in recent weeks have caused us all to reflect , with even greater urgency, on the many issues which women face on a daily basis and on what needs to be done both to eliminate all violence against women in all its aspects from our society and to addressing the unfinished business of building greater gender equality. It is of crucial importance that we turn this concern into concrete actions to ensure better outcomes for women throughout our society, and in all aspects of our lives. 

It is for these reasons that Sabina and I have therefore decided to invite a range of bodies, all of whom play crucial roles in influencing the experiences and opportunities which women face, to Áras an Uachtaráin to reflect upon what steps they can take and what actions they will commit to in order to make a substantive difference in women’s lives and to ensure greater gender equality.

We look forward to welcoming them to Áras an Uachtaráin and to the discussions which we will have.”