“We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.” – Malala Yousafzai
On March 8th it is International Women’s Day.
“Call on the masses or call on yourself to help forge a better working world – a more gender inclusive world.”
Every year the day has an official theme and this year the theme fell under the title of be bold for change. It was a call to have women all over the world pledge to do something to help change.
Thank you to these girls for allowing me to photograph them and their message 🙂
I am not sure how many of you are from Ireland North or South but one uniting factor is the lack of Abortion laws which are in place in either country, I can only speak from the perspective as someone who has grown up in Northern Ireland so that is how I will base my writings. I have never previously shied away from talking about big topics because I am a firm believer that if you choose to put yourself out there on a social platform that you also should use your platform to discuss openly and honestly about topics that affect you.
I will however preface my opinion by saying that I understand that the vast majority of the population will have a total opposing opinion to my own and that it is ok as long as everyone is respectful of everyone else it is important to have open and challenging conversations as I believe that is how we make and affect change by being opening and honest in our discussions.
In Northern Ireland women can still face 14 years in prison for supplying or being found in possession of drugs which cause an abortion. 14 years , I can’t even let that sink in enough. In the mainland UK women have rights and access yet in Northern Ireland we are simply left with no rights and that scares me. I have to be responsible for my own body, sort my own birth control, work through periods and all the crap that comes along with that yet at the end of the day my reproductive rights are not my own.
Yesterday a peaceful protest in aid of Strike for Repeal was held at the front of Belfast city hall to show solidarity with our sisters in the South of Ireland who were also holding a rally to Repeal the 8th amendment which makes abortion illegal. in 2017 we have no rights over our own bodies which is why is it crucial that we still must go out and protest this law because our Government will not help us. I could write about all the issues with Northern Ireland and our government but I will save that for another day.
What you notice on days of protest is the spirit of everyone there, we are optimistic, and seeing others standing up for what you also believe in is so inspiring. It is my opinion that we need to legalise abortion in order to give it the protection that women deserve when they are having to make this decision. Abortion has always happened and will always happen so having the protection of the NHS or other clinics ensures that we do not have to listen to any more horror stories of women having to travel to the UK mainland in order to go through the procedure. Women are more than just a vessel to make children and our government happily gives more rights to that then they do to the women who have to go through it , not taking into consideration the physical or mental well being of the women.
At the protest I witnessed a man come up right into the face of a women standing with a banner and aggressively argue her that her banner which included the Uterus offended him. When she asked him to remove himself from her face as he was becoming more and more aggressive he turned to the crowd and screamed that we all must just be a bunch of lesbians. That is nothing else perfectly illustrates the mindsets and views that we still find ourselves regularly coming up against. Your opinion is invalid and worthy of being shut down because of a the outdated and naive angry lesbian feminist stereotype that time and time again is used to label us.
If I can make one crucial one out of all of this it is this, even if my opinion is not yours. You may not agree with what I stand for nor do you have to but I urge you that when you see an opportunity to take to the streets and count for something that you find the time to do so. It might be a rally or signing a petition, it might be sharing something on Facebook or another platform. it might be defending you opinion to a random person you encounter in life. Please be respectful and stay safe but above all your opinion is valid you are allowed to show how you feel and you do not have to sit back and take something because it has always been that way. You and your opinion are valid and worthy.
Last year I attended a huge march to protest the laws and this year this is the first but probably not the last rally or march that will be held. Our latest vote in Northern Ireland gives you a small glimmer of hope that we will cling to.
Big issues are not going away and we will not walk away and let the government have the rights to our bodies.
We are here, we wont go away and you will listen to us.