As we launch Women’s Week here on Changing Ireland, editor Allen Meagher shares his thoughts on the continued fight for equality.

I picked the right course when I chose sociology at UCC. At lectures about the sociology of work, I learned that we had grown up thinking that only paid work was real work.

Unpaid work – usually done by women – was not rated. Volunteering was not valued. Our minds had been poisoned by capitalist and chauvinistic thinking.

But the veil was lifted. Female emancipation now meant something real to us students. We could now see how the average woman at home worked 70 hours a week. We could see that most housewives, as they were called, performed a great variety of under-appreciated tasks, ranging from cooking to cleaning, childminding to clothes washing, and craftwork to counselling. And that was only some of the Cs.

We learned that, until 1973, women were often obliged to give up paid employment on marrying.

Today, according to Amnesty International, 104 countries still have laws preventing women working in specific jobs.

In Ireland, human rights campaigners have got really good at highlighting injustices, past and present, experienced by women. We’ve featured some of the campaigns in this magazine.

Recently, some asked ‘Are we there yet?’ in terms of human rights and equality. Women in Wexford attempted to answer the question.

They now hope, in Wexford, to see an increase in the level of female participation in local elections from May 2019. They are taking action to encourage more women to stand. Let’s hope it goes well.

Many reports in this issue (Issue 62) focus heavily on the continuing fight to emancipate and empower women. Society as a whole will benefit from more female involvement in decision-making and female leadership within communities.

One such person is Lisa Fingleton, who has written a book about a 30-day local food challenge she devised. If your community can follow her example, you could be doing more to tackle climate change than the government seems to be. The warnings are dire.

The names of many other strong leaders of community groups across Ireland come to mind.

Come to think of it, we in Ireland are in a reasonably good position now to act in greater solidarity with women abroad seeking basic rights.

The excellent development education work done by Lourdes Youth and Community Services (LYCS) in inner city Dublin springs to mind. They empowered local women by educating them about the plight of women in poverty in faraway countries. Worth looking up!

Main photo: Miguel Bruna/Unsplash