It is important we nurture inclusivity, diversity and equality

Ahead of International Women's Day, 2021, on March 8, we asked Cork women for their take on the theme, Choose To Challenge
It is important we nurture inclusivity, diversity and equality

Karen O’Reilly of Employflex

Karen O’Reilly of Employflex

As lobbyists for flexible and remote work for many years, Karen O’Reilly of Employflex has been delighted with the seismic shift in attitudes towards flexible work in the last 12 months due to us all working in the greatest remote work global experiment ever:

Our hope is that employers will now have a renaissance of work in this digital age and realise that we can work flexibly and achieve the same results.

Caring responsibilities still rest firmly on the shoulders of mothers, and, in general, Covid-19 has not been kind to women in the workplace, with many leaving or feeling completely overwhelmed with their ‘double shift’.

We have an opportunity now to get things right, to Choose to Challenge the status quo pre Covid by offering flexibility to everyone in the workplace, thereby levelling the playing field for everyone and halting the female brain drain from the workplace that is shamefully happening. The Future of Work for everyone can be a better place if we Choose to Challenge now.

Anna Marie Coughlan is Partnerships and Fundraising Manager at the Everyman Theatre
Anna Marie Coughlan is Partnerships and Fundraising Manager at the Everyman Theatre

Anna Marie Coughlan is Partnerships and Fundraising Manager at the Everyman

I’m putting my hand up to support the arts, artists, and art workers, in this very challenging time. We are in great danger of losing something very precious to us all, without solidarity and support, the arts will decline in this country.

The arts do so much to help us to challenge inequalities and injustices and to highlight issues in society and they need our support to continue through and beyond this crisis.

We at the Everyman are so grateful to everyone who has supported us and continues to do so.

 Elena Canty, Communications Executive at Event Plan
 Elena Canty, Communications Executive at Event Plan

Elena Canty, Communications Executive at Event Plan

I agree with the #ChooseToChallenge campaign, and I stand in solidarity on this year’s theme. I choose to challenge gender bias and inequality.

I believe all women from all backgrounds should be encouraged and inspired to achieve anything their hearts desire in life, personally and professionally. It is so important we nurture inclusivity, diversity, and equality within our female community.

Individually, we have the responsibility to take positive actions in supporting those around us. We should strive to eliminate gender bias and inequality and celebrate women’s achievements.

Collectively, we can create a world that promotes inclusivity and belongingness. This is my wish, and I sincerely hope this dream comes true.

In my experience, challenges bring awareness with ourselves and in the community —this awakening will make us stronger and resilient to overcome anything. From challenge comes change, so let’s choose to challenge and combat against gender bias and inequality

Laura O’Connell, Business coach / Founder Cork Entrepreneurs Network
Laura O’Connell, Business coach / Founder Cork Entrepreneurs Network

Laura O’Connell, Business coach / Founder Cork Entrepreneurs Network

Small matters. In the EU, micro businesses make up half of small businesses so why are we regularly undervalued, and the focus maintained on the large corporations? With a trend that could keep on growing during these times, we contribute to employment, flexibility, creativity and innovation.

Being a micro business owner can help everyone to achieve their desired work / life balance. The pandemic fast tracked the need for technology and therefore contributed to the rise of successful micro businesses. So, I have to ask, why are we still undervalued? I #choosetochallenge to strive for better acknowledgment and appreciation.

Small matters, support your local small business, support your female-led small business who is juggling loads under the one roof these days and doing an amazing job. #ChooseToChallenge. Small matters.”

Ellie Donovan Head Gardener at Nano Nagle Place Garden Tutor with the Lantern Community Project Treasurer of the Board of Directors for Cork Environmental Forum
Ellie Donovan Head Gardener at Nano Nagle Place Garden Tutor with the Lantern Community Project Treasurer of the Board of Directors for Cork Environmental Forum

Ellie Donovan, Head Gardener at Nano Nagle Place, Garden Tutor with the Lantern Community Project, Treasurer of the Board of Directors for Cork Environmental Forum

I’ll always choose to challenge. I grew up in a house of five strong, independent women. My mother and three older sisters a constant source of inspiration and motivation. I never felt my gender inhibited me from achieving my goals or dreams. How lucky am I!

So of course I #ChooseToChallenge, but it’s easy for me. I receive an invitation to participate on my laptop while admiring the view from my kitchen window, take a picture in the garden on my smartphone and send via email to you, and anyone else I wish to.

I am acutely aware that this is not the case for millions of women all over the world. Inequalities faced by women and girls can begin as soon as they are born and remain their whole lives.

We need to dismantle the economic, social and political barriers that hold up unjust systems. Then we can look forward to a world of empowerment and equality for all women.

Trish Brennan, MTU Crawford College
Trish Brennan, MTU Crawford College

Trish Brennan, Head of Department, Dept of Fine Art & Applied Art, MTU Crawford College of Art & Design, Sharman Crawford Street

Choose to Challenge — it’s always so important to think about how we live, challenging the way we think and our environment and where we can do more to promote equality.

We need to constantly check what we consider normal practice, does it support the status quo? Does this status quo offer equal representation? Does it challenge inequality — if not, we need to act now, call out bias, question common sense, check your own opinion — CHOOSE to CHALLENGE

Emmanuelle Schon-Quinlivan Co-Director of BFGTOEU (www.bfgtoeu.ie), Department of Government and Politics UCC
Emmanuelle Schon-Quinlivan Co-Director of BFGTOEU (www.bfgtoeu.ie), Department of Government and Politics UCC

Emmanuelle Schon-Quinlivan Co-Director of BFGTOEU (www.bfgtoeu.ie), Department of Government and Politics UCC

As an academic, I chose to challenge the separation between levels of education to engage primary school children on issues of European citizenship, critical thinking and the role of Ireland in the EU.

Through systematic collaboration with my colleague, who is a primary school teacher, we developed a national programme of teaching and learning at primary school level on Ireland and the European Union — My Big Friendly Guide to the European Union.

This programme certainly challenged the pre- onceived ideas that primary school children are too young to discuss politics and find the EU too abstract or boring.

It showed us that given the tools to engage, children from all backgrounds found their voice to start a conversation on their role as European citizens.

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