The following is from Orlaith Hendron, who is a lobbyist in the Women’s Sector in Northern Ireland.
We all know people are struggling these days; we only have to go outside and take a look at the house next door where our friends used to live, and know that redundancy meant they couldn’t afford rent. We only have to see ads in church bulletins about food banks and know that there won’t be enough there to help everyone who needs it.
We only have to look at our kids who are coming out of university with less job prospects than we did when we left secondary school.
We only have to watch the price of things go up and up so much so that basics are sometimes out of reach. We only have to look at our local women’s centres closing to know that there’s no childcare for the families in the area anymore and that means people can’t go to work.
These are desperate times, but we’ve had desperate times before and we’ve made it through, we’ve come together and made things happen. In Northern Ireland, women have stood up and stood together to build a community in the midst of chaos.
14 women’s centres across Northern Ireland exist, for such a small place that’s a huge number and multitudes of other women’s groups, organisations, co ops, projects and circles all work tirelessly to keep our communities and our society ticking over, to help people grow and learn.
We run education programmes, crèches, counselling services, advice services, and language courses for migrant women and support groups for minority women and their families. We lobby and challenge government, we stand up for our rights, we fight for our freedoms, we take care of children and the elderly, we work for free a lot of the time.
If women didn’t do all the free labour they do today, our whole society would collapse and for all this effort, whether paid on unpaid, we should be celebrated.
The cuts and austerity measures are not the way, we all agree with this, but in the middle of all the protesting and shouting and organising and lobbying, lets not forget we should also be celebrating the massive achievements we’ve made and continue to make as women every day.
We should be proud to be women in Northern Ireland, even if our government ignores us. We’re not saying don’t organise, and don’t protest, the opposite in fact, we have to come together and hold our assembly accountable.
In an effort to support the March Against the Cuts organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions on May 2nd and at the same time celebrate women, the Cut It Out campaign is calling for all women to come and march with us, side by side to show our assembly that we are not invisible, we are not to be ignored and we are not to be denied our right to be valued.
We demand to be celebrated and true to form we’re willing to do it for ourselves.
Come to the rally, bring your granny, your mother, sisters, cousins, daughters. Come to the rally on May 2nd and wear something Yellow so that every woman can be visible, so that every woman cannot be ignored.
Come and celebrate yourself and other women. Come and see what it feels like to be valued. Come and dance. Come and sing. Come and stand together against the cuts and in celebration of women and all we do for society.
The Rally will assemble at the art college at 11.30am on Saturday 2nd May – remember to wear YELLOW or make a banner that’s positive and come celebrate!
This is a guest slot to give a platform for new writers either as a one off, or a prelude to becoming part of the regular Slugger team.