‘Everybody deserves to live a dignified life of purpose’

Ahead of International Women's Day on March 8, Editor of Wow! Elaine Duggan asked women working and living in Cork to share their views on this year’s theme ‘Breaking the Bias’
‘Everybody deserves to live a dignified life of purpose’

Joanna Dukkipati Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Good Day, Cork

JOANNA DUKKIPATI

Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Good Day, Cork

“Five years ago, my son was born in Cork. ‘You’re lucky, boys are easy!’ many people told me. I couldn’t understand how they could say that when I continue to see grown men oppressing women in the most heinous manner all around me.

We need more vulnerable men in the world. I know it must begin at home. 

One way is to raise boys to be feminists capable of expressing their feelings. How could this be simple in a world where the motto ‘boys will be boys’ is upheld with pride or verse humour? Why is it so tough to raise girls, in particular? ‘Because they express themselves and challenge everything?’ they responded. I asked, ‘Why’s that bad or hard?’

Let’s break this bias. Let’s challenge this stereotype in all cultures. It is our full time responsibility to raise children who believe in equality and equity. And we must show all kids role models who display critical thinking, enable equal opportunities, and most of all show the power of respecting each other.”

CATHERINE KIRWAN

Author and solicitor

“We’ve made significant progress towards gender equality but if we are to truly #BreakTheBias much more needs to be done. It might seem like a small thing, but I’d love to see and hear more women talking about general topics in the mainstream media. We have some brilliant women ‘generalists’, for want of a better word, who crop up - Alison O’Connor and Deirdre O’Shaughnessy are two who spring to mind - but it’s still majority men with opinions on everything, expounding at length on radio and television panels, whereas often, it seems to me, women tend to be invited to talk within their specialist subject area. I think that’s a pity, because obviously women have opinions on everything too.

As a young girl growing up, I can’t tell you how important it was for me to see and hear Nell McCafferty making her point articulately and forcefully, however many men she had to interrupt to do so.

In a social media saturated world where everyone has an opinion, it might seem strange that I’m calling for even more opining, but I am.

It’s about hearing alternative views. It’s about taking up space.”

Dr Lekha Menon Margassery
Dr Lekha Menon Margassery

DR LEKHA MENON MARGASSERY

Researcher, UCC

“A researcher by profession, dancer by passion, social worker by nature, and a poet by chance. I am the newly appointed EDI ambassador (for International Students and Staff) at the School of Microbiology, UCC, and I got this role because of my commitment to breaking the bias towards ethnic minorities!

Currently, I am the Technical officer at the School of Microbiology, UCC. I ran for local elections in 2019, organised culture nights, contributed to an Earth Song project, and also advocate for political participation among ethnic minority communities.

So my message to all women out there is, ‘We have to break the bias towards and challenge the stereotypes because everybody deserves a chance at living a dignified life of purpose’.”

Maria Desmond, President Network Cork
Maria Desmond, President Network Cork

MARIA DESMOND

President, Network Cork

“I look forward to celebrating the amazing women in my life next week including my Mother, Mother-in-law, daughters and the dynamic, fellow members of Network Cork. Whilst we all know Covid is still around, I believe it to be a good time to reflect on the past two years and acknowledge how hard Network Cork, its committee and members worked to keep us all focused and sane during the pandemic. 

I am extremely proud of the women who, despite obstacles and challenging home circumstances at home, were able to forge ahead, some of them pivoting their businesses and others excelling at their careers.

On a personal note, regarding IWD, I’m a firm believer that the way women are treated and attitudes to women are learned in the home. Growing up my Father always taught me to be financially independent and constantly reminded me I could be anything I wanted to be. If you are a father, a brother, an uncle, a friend, you know what you have to do. #BreakTheBias.”

Deborah Oniah
Deborah Oniah

POEM by Deborah Oniah

Nigerian mum of four, law graduate, important voice for migrant community

SHE IS NOT

For years and years, she was told her story

For years and years, she believed that story

And for years and years, she was her story

She was told her place of the things she can and cannot do

She never knew she had the right to seek help thus she stayed silent, in her silence, she knew there was more and she wanted more

She is now evolving to her own, to own her space and to let her voice be heard

She is not the words that the society have called her

She is not the label the system has given her

She is not the box society have put her in

She is more, she is meeting her essence

Elena Canty, Event Plan.
Elena Canty, Event Plan.

ELENA CANTY

Event Plan

“This year’s theme for International Women’s Day resonates with me deeply. Living with a physical disability means that sometimes I face biases in my life. However, I am fortunate to have wonderful parents who always encourage and support me to achieve my goals.

I never seemed to take the easiest route, as it’s often the case when living with a disability, but the road I embarked on led me to where I am today.

The challenges I overcame, the people I met along the way, and the knowledge I gained all brought me to where I am today.

Every experience shaped me, even the challenging ones helped me grow into the person I am today. I am fortunate to surround myself with positive people who inspire me every day. These are the people who I learned so much from and champion me in every journey I embark on.

My wish for the future is a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. Imagine living in a world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

Being different is what makes you beautiful and that should be valued and celebrated. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.”

Cleidi Hearn, Sunny Numbers.
Cleidi Hearn, Sunny Numbers.

CLEIDI HEARN

Founder at Sunny Numbers

“This is 2022 and we still live in a world where women struggle with gender inequality. I wish we were past the point that we, as a society, recognise this is plainly wrong. Period. Unfortunately, despite tremendous historic strides, if you are a woman you can attest that the struggle is not over yet.

If you believe in gender equality, start today with small gestures. Do not wait for government or corporate policies. 

Those will come once each individual starts treating women as equal. Your personal contribution has the power to positively affect a woman’s life today. Start by acknowledging the problem and ask yourself: what can I do today to make the world a little bit safer and inclusive for women? Use your empathy and courage to build the gender equal world that you would like to live in. #BreaktheBias”

Marie Fitzgerald, Coach and Relationship Mentor
Marie Fitzgerald, Coach and Relationship Mentor

MARIE FITZGERALD

Workplace Mindfulness Teacher, Coach & Relationship Mentor

Bias occurs through a lifetime of conditioning, which a lot of the time can be habitual at an unconscious level. We are all biased in some respects so it’s helpful to pay attention to your own biases and modify your own habitual behaviors. As a receiver of perceived bias it is important to have clear boundaries for yourself, be true to your values, be courageous, speak your truth and challenge the norms in a calm, open and direct way.

In doing so, some unintended bias may be highlighted, acknowledged and rectified. 

Other endemic bias may take more persuasion and challenge so that all individuals are treated fairly and equally. Every conversation counts in raising awareness!

A useful rule of thumb is treating all others as you would like to be treated yourself. Ultimately it’s not about being male or female which society can pigeon hole us into. To be fully human, a balance of masculine and feminine qualities is preferable for all.”

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