"Is this the kind of society we wish to live in?"

We continue our series to mark International Women's Day this week. Here Cork women have their say on the theme, Embrace Equity
"Is this the kind of society we wish to live in?"

Evelyne Legaux, OTC Consulting Ltd

Evelyne Legaux, Founder of OTC Consulting Ltd

I find this year’s theme for International Women’s Day - Embrace Equity - highly inspiring. Most of us use both words ‘equality’ and ‘equity’ interchangeably due to a lack of understanding of what ‘equity’ truly means. Many businesses and public bodies do so as well because addressing ‘inequality’ is far easier than tackling ‘inequity’.

Doing so, however, has significant ramifications and a deep impact on the lives of women, people of colour, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ community or socially disadvantaged people. The truth is, ‘equality’ alone is not enough and can exclude people instead of giving them equal chance and opportunities.

It is therefore about time for all of us to embrace the concept of ‘equity’ that goes much further by acknowledging that individual needs to succeed are different, that is, not everyone starts from the same place and in the same circumstances to achieve the same goals.

If we are to live in a progressive society, ‘equity’ is indeed a MUST!

When it comes to gender bias, what strikes me is that many of the products or facilities we use in our daily lives are clearly conceived, manufactured or designed to suit men’s needs as opposed to men AND women’s needs.

For instance, whenever sitting in a car most women experience the seatbelt cutting through their neck, or else find it hard to hold a mobile phone in their hand without dropping it. Why is that? Because those products are designed to suit the average male body primarily.

Likewise, whenever women need to use bathrooms in public or private buildings, 90% of the time they need to walk a longer distance than men because female toilets are located further away, and definitely past male toilets. Why is that? Because those buildings are conceived to satisfy male needs first.

While such considerations may appear futile or superficial to many, the truth of the matter is that they reveal how deeply engrained and rooted in society underlying gender bias are, with the related outcomes simply taken for granted.

Is this the kind of society we wish to live in? It’s about time to acknowledge and embrace those insidious gender biases head on, and address them once and for all!

Wishing you all a meaningful and inspiring International Women’s Day!

Lillian Courtney
Lillian Courtney

Lillian Courtney, Business & Personal Creative Confidence Coach and workshopper facilitator, Public Speaker and Professional Entertainer.

Equity, to me, means being given the chance to be who I am and to get a fair ,equal chance at my vision building Lillian Courtney Coaching into a global company.

I must say, I have not yet come up against any form of bias and feel in this new world women like myself are being given a chance to show our true talents in a man’s world where I am in business coaching and facilitation.

Also, a very strong area, returning back to work having reared one’s children. Ageism has not affected me in this area also. The balance to me has been very fair.

 Karen Casey Folk singer Picture: Liadh Connolly
 Karen Casey Folk singer Picture: Liadh Connolly

Karen Casey, folk singer

Equity means a future where Ireland’s women and the marginalised will be treated with more respect. For women in the arts, we will have access to more gigs and fair pay and there will be consequences if people are abused and that this will be connected to public funding. 

I am deeply hopeful that things will change for the better to reflect the world we live in where we have more diversity, equality and inclusion on our stages.

Patricia Andrade, photographer

I’m a local photographer that every year celebrates International Women’s Day. March 8 has marked a new year of International Women’s Day celebration since 1911. On this day, we globally create awareness of what being a woman means.

But why? Because we can all play a part in creating a better world, with more equality, free of bias and violence, without fear, where we can trust and support each other.

In honour of all the women in the past, present and future... This is about loving each other, and an invitation to reflect, to all (men and women), in what each one of us do in our day to day to overcome the knots from the past.

Majella Galvin
Majella Galvin

Majella Galvin, Chartered Estate Agent and Valuer. The first female chartered estate agent in West Cork. Director of DNG Galvin Auctioneers and Chair of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (Southern Region)

Equity, to me, means giving everyone the same opportunity to succeed. Everyone is talented. Sometimes it may take time to shine. Sometimes we need help to succeed, quite simply because we are all in different situations in life. We all have different backgrounds and resources.

We all have obstacles and may require help to overcome those in order to reach our full potential. There are great resources out there for women, for example Network Ireland, Mentors Work, Toastmasters,

I work in a male-dominated industry. But to me that is irrelevant. My whole focus is providing a high standard to my clients. I continually work on professional development to maintain high standards in the industry. I seek mentorship and guidance. In return I offer guidance to others. I am a mentor with Network Ireland. 

I support Embrace, a group set up by the society of chartered surveyors Ireland to support female chartered estate agents and surveyors.

When I was young, people would say ‘An auctioneer is a man’s job’. But I never listened. I followed my dream.

Laoise Leahy.
Laoise Leahy.

Laoise Leahy, musical artist

I am a musical artist, a lecturer, a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend and honoured to be appointed as jazz artist in residence at Cork Opera House for 2023. I am privileged to be able to undertake such a diverse spectrum of roles in my life. It is not always easy to juggle but I am grateful each day for the support in making this a possibility in my beautiful home town of Cork.

I feel it is essential for society, the government and the workplace to enable women to fulfill all of the important roles in their lives, including a fulfilling and flexible career, and for home and family life choices to be deemed equally important, cherished and supported based on each person and family’s individual vision.

 I think we have come so far and with the right message we can continue to see girls and women AND boys and men thrive in their lives.

Maria Zapico, Mexico, living in Cork

For me, equity means to give each one the same level of opportunities, responsibilities, benefits, and rights, keeping in mind differences and creating awareness of privileges and disadvantages that affect individuals.

Áine Murphy, Senior Executive Personal Assistant to the CEO of Tyndall National Institute, UCC

I worded on the operations team, supporting Tyndall’s successful application for a Bronze Athena Swan Award, in 2022. Athena Swan is a framework that is used across the globe to support and transform gender equality in higher education and research.

Embrace Equity means to me fairness and impartial treatment of all genders.

Debismita Dutta, Science researcher.
Debismita Dutta, Science researcher.

Debismita Dutta, material science researcher, Tyndall, UCC

I am currently in the 2nd year of my doctoral studies at Tyndall National Institute, at UCC, investigating room temperature multiferroic ultra-thin films.

What does ‘Embrace Equity’ mean to me?

Equity is the acknowledgement that we are all diverse, and as a result, so are our needs. 

This remains true for women and their individual needs as well. Embracing equity, to me, means recognising my privilege where relevant, and giving space to people who might need a spot more than me, while having the courage to demand respect for my work in the same breath. Not ‘despite’ who I am, but ‘because of’ the merit in my work alone.

Jennifer Downing, Managing Partner at Orbitus, legal and tax practice

In my role as a Managing Partner and a woman, it is important to me that equity is built on a level playing field, a field that is accessible to everyone regardless of gender, race or orientation. Only by removing the societal barriers that have been historically placed on women and other minority groups can we strive for equality in a manner that has fairness, openness and justice for all at its core.

Within Orbitus, it is my duty, to ensure a culture of diversity and inclusivity, to ensure opportunities are open and afforded to everyone, to recognise and accept our differences but not be limited by them, that talent and merit win the race, and that having various voices around the table brings forth growth and development in all aspects of our lives.

Saoirse O’Riordan, Her Money and CWM Wealth Management Ltd

My first observation from my studies in Commerce was that it was a male-dominated field. I was delighted to be given the opportunity to join a female-led business and team and still be able to pursue my career in Financial Services.

At HerMoney, I have been fortunate to be mentored and feel empowered by a female team that have inspired me to pursue my career and to complete my Qualified Financial Advisor Diploma. It is a privilege to be a part of an amazing team!

Tara Elzingre, founder of Parene.
Tara Elzingre, founder of Parene.

Tara Elzingre, 33-year old mum of three aged 4 and under, proud founder of Parene, a resource platform for mums getting started in business

Despite a great impact to change the gender disparity in the founder landscape, there is still heavy work to be done. There continue to be barriers to moms getting started in business who seek funding to scale their businesses.

We need to create a more inclusive business funding process. One that recognises industries predominantly populated by females such as the service industries: retail, travel and hospitality.

With over 50% of the population as females and only 1 in 5 founders as females, we need more visibility on female founders, offering tailored support and mentorship to mom-led businesses to empower more mom founders. conducting more audits on the distribution of funding to assess gaps, and seeking out ways to create opportunities. Greater funding equity for moms would promote more innovation, a culture of creativity and increase profitability.

Stephanie Stafford, Head of Communication at Fuzion

Equity, to me, means constantly showing up for myself and for those around me to work toward a world that is free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.

Equity in my role as Head of Communications means continuously examining and updating our process to make sure that diversity and inclusion are embedded into the way the company is run and how we approach campaigns for our clients.

Equity is what makes us all accountable and it is something we need to always have eyes on. It’s what makes the drive to embrace equity a team effort, a common goal that we all work towards.

Martha López, Localization Engineer in Spanish, Mexican Community in Cork

I believe that gender equity is accepting that each person’s role is equally important and necessary in society and in the family, and that the strengths of each one make us greater as a unit, since they complement each other.

In the world we all need each other, and it is this balance that maintains life.

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