Chasing after the 52%

An Phoblach/Republican News, 9 March 1995

ONE DAY in a year men get to hear about women only. For a couple of minutes on radio programmes, a few column inches in newspapers, the final item on the television news. Those that don't switch off get a brief reminder of the way the land lies. Then everyone goes back to living the way the land lies.

In the Dublin parliament, a government composed of 15 men and two women pushes through one more chunk of legislation for hypocrisy between time-outs for International Women's Day photocalls.

The coalition government assures the dail the full range of support services needed for all women facing crisis pregnancies won't be available in this country.

The Fianna Fail opposition votes against the abortion information legislation anyway, not in opposition to hypocrisy but in the ultimate pursuit of it.

Meanwhile, a Dublin evening paper headline tells us a 12-year-old girl is in the middle of a crisis pregnancy. The saga continues. Men announce they are tired of the issue anyway, and the message is why don't all these women just go away with their problems.

Sinn Fein spokespersons have been making the point in successive speeches over the past year that neither the 26-County nor the Six-County state has the ability or the political will to provide real freedom or real equality for the people of this island. Each day of the 364 International Men's Days we live through in Ireland, this point is proven all the more.

The push for change on this island must not just come from Sinn Fein. It must come from all those who have a vested interest in change. Women have a vested interest in change.

Liberating the oppressed and the oppressor? We've been trying it for years. But as Irish nationalist demands of the power brokers of unionism have often shown, equality is sometimes too much to ask for.

Sinn Fein wants constitutional change — not as an inducement to unionists — but because we want a society which recognises civil and human rights for all the people of this island. In that respect, republicans know that chasing after the 20% who are unionist and ignoring the over 50% who are women won't get us where we want to go. Only the lot of us moving down that road together will take us there.