Our 5th Annual March for Choice, takes place on Saturday the 24th of September, assembling at the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Square from 1.30pm, before we march to Dáil Éireann at 2pm.
The theme of our March this year is ‘Rise and Repeal’ a comment on the failure of our Republic to fulfil the promise of equality made in 1916.
100 years ago, the signatories of the Irish proclamation declared a land of “equal rights and equal opportunities” for all its citizens, but this Republic has failed to live up to their ideals. Until recently, our women revolutionaries – who fought and died alongside their male counterparts – were erased from history; quite literally in the case of Elizabeth O’Farrell, a trained midwife, suffragist and trade unionist. This ‘airbrushing’ continues to this day – the parallels between Nurse O’Farrell’s photograph, and the removal of Maser’s Repeal the 8th mural are clear to see.
We have been fighting for equal rights and equal opportunities since the birth of our conservative Catholic nation. We have made some progress; we have won the right to marry and divorce our partners irrespective of their gender; we have won the right to use contraceptives so that we may exercise a limited control over our reproductive lives, but in 2016, 100 years on, the equality promised in the proclamation hasn’t been realised. Women, trans men and non-binary people who may need to access abortion in Ireland, North and South, still don’t have the right to choose.
The Easter Rising sought Sovereignty and self determination for Ireland. Today, we seek the same control over our own bodies. No longer will the Irish State force us to self-administer health care by taking abortion pills (risking a fourteen year jail term), or spend thousands of euro travelling secretly to England. This year we, the women of Ireland, with the support of all those who care about equality and human rights, are self administering our independence.
We are tired of the delay tactics being used by successive governments who bury their heads in the sand, ignoring the urgent need and desire for change. We are tired of being told to wait – tired of being told we need a ‘calm and measured debate’ while our contributions to this debate are silenced or belittled. We are tired of seeing our sisters in the North criminalised for taking medicine which is legal in the rest of the UK, and is on the World Health Organisation’s list of essential medicines. We are afraid of what Britain’s exit from the EU will mean for our sisters living in Ireland who are not citizens. We are tired of hearing of horrific case after horrific case while yet another EU body or court tell us our laws go against international human rights standards. Women’s rights are Human Rights. There can be no freedom without Women’s freedom.
Enough blood has been spilled, enough women have died unwillingly. No more death, no more silence, no more shame. This is our Rising!
Rise, and Repeal the 8th!
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