Speaking in advance of International Women’s Day on Wednesday March 8th, Kildare South TD Fiona O’Loughlin said,

“Great work has been done in recent years to achieve greater equality for women. This is evident by the result of the last General Election where 35 women were elected to the Dáil, the highest number ever. There are also ten women representing the people of Kildare. These are great achievements but further work is needed to achieve a truly level playing field.

“International Women’s Day on March 8th is the story of ordinary women as makers of history. It is rooted in the centuries old struggle of women to be part of society on an equal footing with men. It marks decades of struggle for equality and justice.

“We have traveled a long distance since the first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1911. However statistics clearly show we have further to travel. New opportunities for women have largely come on top of and not instead of old obligations. Whether we like it or not, the job of caring for those who need our care the most, has always and continues to fall predominantly on women.

“This week is an opportunity to celebrate exceptional women who have gone before us. We stand on the shoulders of our mothers and our grandmothers who day by day, step by step carried us forward, created opportunity and gave us choice. Those were women who lived through changing times. In small acts and in great gestures they threw off and tore apart the matrix of discrimination that hemmed in so many women for so long. For me personally, my mother had a huge influence on my life and still does because she generously gives me encouragement and motivation.

“I believe a critical next step forward for women is to support and to enable men to be home makers and parents as well as chief executives. If women are to be free to make choices, society has to be free and fair as well. Every woman should have the choice to be a home maker or to be at the summit of any career she should choose. To do both in a single life time we have to ensure that real choice is available not only for women, but also for men.

“In an address to a Cumman na mBan meeting in 1909 the irrepressible Countess Markievicz had this message for the women of Ireland: “No-one can help you but yourselves alone; you must make the world look up to you as citizens first, as women after. For each one of you there is a niche waiting – your place in the nation. Try and find it.” This week as we celebrate 106 years of International Women’s Day, it is a message worth repeating.

“I will be attending many events both in Kildare and in Dublin, one of them being the world congress on women’s mental health which Ireland is hosting in the RDS. Nothing can be more important as we celebrate women’s progress and friendship, than examining mental health issues and barriers to a good positive mental health area.”