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Press Release

Friday, January 25, 2012

For Immediate Release

 Abortion debate and electoral gender quotas spurs demand for debate on what it’s like to be a woman in Ireland today

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is running a series of seminars in 2013 on the topic of ‘Women in Society’. The first seminar takes place this Monday in University College Cork at 7.30pm in the O’Rahilly Building.

The purpose of the seminars is to generate a discussion around questions such as: What is it like to be a woman in Ireland today? Do we still need feminism? Why aren’t women represented more in the media and in politics?

The seminars will feature a range of female speakers from different backgrounds who are working in leadership positions. USI hopes that these seminars will help to increase dialogue around gender equality issues on campuses across the country.

Speakers at Monday’s UCC seminar include Deirdre O’ Shaughnessy, Editor of the Cork Independent; Jennifer DeWan, Co-Founder of Cork Feminista; Fiona Buckley, Lecturer in UCC Department of Government; Deirdre Waldron, President of Network Cork and Fiona Finn, CEO of Nasc in Cork City.

In Ireland, women earn on average 17% less than men. Women are under-represented in politics and in the economy. Across Europe, women make up only 33% of managers; make up 12% of board members in the biggest publicly-listed companies across the EU and only 3% chair company boards.

Women are also under-represented in the media, making up less than one in four of the voices on Irish radio news and current affairs broadcasting. In General Election 2011, just 15% of those elected were women.

Over 5,000 women travel abroad every year to get an abortion.

Laura Harmon, USI Vice-President for Equality & Citizenship said:

“We are excited to be holding these seminars on campuses across the country and we hope that discussions will be generated around gender equality issues and barriers that women face in progressing in their careers. These seminars will be a great opportunity for students to hear from successful women who are in leadership positions and to ask them about their experiences. Needless to say, the seminars are open to everyone, regardless of gender.”

Sian Cowman, Auditor of UCC Feminist Society, said that the society was honoured to host this event:

“The importance of opening up a space for discussion of gender equality in our society cannot be underestimated. The issue of under-representation of women in media, politics and the higher echelons of business is a conversation that badly needs to happen, especially amongst young people. The calibre of the speakers at this event will contribute to providing strong role models for young women who have their careers ahead of them.”

-ENDS-

For more information, contact USI Media and Communications Executive, Ronan Costello, on 085-1164263 or email media@usi.ie

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