5 Women To Watch In 2015
GIVEN the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Make it Happen’, we could all look towards these five women – and many more – for inspiration. Through their actions, both nationally and internationally, they are ensuring positive recognition for women, offering something to aspire to. We’ve only got space for these women to watch in 2015 but we can assure you there are many many more across Ireland and the globe in so many different forms.
Amal Clooney – International Human Rights Lawyer
Aside from marrying the world’s most eligible bachelor, Oxford graduate Amal Clooney has carved out an extremely impressive career in her own right as an international human rights lawyer. Amal has acted as an adviser to Kofi Annan on issues relating to Syria, sat on a UN commission investigating rules of war violation in the Gaza strip and, most recently, represented Armenia against genocide denier, Doğu Perinçe, at the EU Court of Human Rights.
In her short stint as a married woman, she has firmly cemented the notion of the ‘trophy husband.’ In their live blog of the Golden Globes awards, The Guardian referred to the couple as ‘human rights lawyer, Amal Alamuddin and her husband’ when they arrived on the red carpet, casting her husband’s career into the backseat. Reminding us how fabricated the entire Hollywood culture is, Amal used her first engagement as a ‘Hollywood wife’ to cast the spotlight on issues of graver importance. Rather than discussing the label she was wearing, she drew our attention to a button with the words ‘Je suis Charlie’ pinned to her Dior clutch, while last week quashing frivolous questioning from journalists regarding her wardrobe, replying ‘Ede & Ravenscroft’ and underscoring her intentions to preserve her character as a woman of unlimited ability.
Claire Byrne – Journalist and Broadcaster with RTÉ
Claire Byrne, a broadcaster and current affairs journalist, hasn’t allowed the birth of her two children impede her career. Born in Mountrath, Co.Laois, hardly an area we would associate with cutting edge journalism, Claire is eclipsing all her male co-anchors in RTÉ. Capably presiding over a heated debate regarding the upcoming marriage equality referendum on her first outing on Claire Byrne Live, she proved her worth and settled the leap of faith taken by RTÉ to give a woman a solo run at a fresh approach to current affairs.With RTÉ Editor of Current Affairs commenting “in reality, she was the only one we seriously considered doing it”, we look forward to following Byrne as she continues push the limitations of broadcast journalism in a year which promises great questions to be asked of us as a society.
Dr. Rhona Mahony – Master of Dublin’s Holles Street Maternity Hospital
With a referendum on the legalisation of abortion believed to be in the pipeline in the coming years, the nation would be wise to look towards Rhona Mahony to gauge a decisive opinion on the matter. Becoming Ireland’s first female master of a maternity hospital, Mahony chooses to step out from behind the protective veil of political correctness, offering very forthright opinions in a manner which keeps her credibility intact. Mahony offers a drop of realism to the questions regarding the balance of rights for pregnant women, saying, “There is particular difficulty in ascribing equal right to the life of the mother and foetus in early gestations prior to foetus viability” suggesting the balance of rights should automatically extend to the life and dignity of the mother and the wishes of her family.
“As a woman, I’m offended by some of the pejorative and judgmental views that women will manipulate doctors in order to obtain termination of pregnancy on the basis of fabricated ideas of suicide ideation or intent,” she says, “Nobody is talking about opening up the floodgates. When women are so distressed that they are willing to take their own lives, they need to be listened to, they need to be believed and they need appropriate medical care.”
“Abortion in Ireland is a criminal offence, which is punishable by penal servitude. That law stands today. And I need to know that I will not go to jail, if in good faith, I believe it is the right thing to save a woman’s life to terminate her pregnancy. It’s not about terminating pregnancies by destroying babies. It’s about saving women’s lives.”
In a country where oppressive understandings of women’s role remain in certain circles, we can only welcome and value with significance Mahony’s consideration for pregnant women at risk as she contributes at length to debate on Ireland’s abortion laws.
Emma Watson – Actress & UN Women Goodwill Ambassador
Thrilling film enthusiasts with her escapades in the Harry Potter series, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and a soon-to-be released modern adaption of Beauty and the Beast, Emma Watson manages to prove there is far more to her character than the celebrity.
Fulfilling her aspirations to gain a university degree, Watson chose English literature at Brown University, attracted by the wide range of modules offered unlimitedly to students – a sure sign of intellect. It’s little surprise then that Watson chooses to combine her ease of articulacy and public recognition to represent women, with a sense of obligation, stating, “If not me, who, if not now, when.”
Heralding her appointment as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Watson delivered a stirring speech, forcing dialogue on ever-present gender discrimination by pinpointing, from her perspective, the day-to-day injustices experienced by women the world over.
Embodying the composure, sureness and belief she has the ability to bring change, Watson defeated the haggard misconception of those who strive for gender equality, “Fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man hating – this has to stop”
We eagerly anticipate Watson’s contribution as she reinvigorates the debate.
Lucinda Creighton – T.D. & leader of ‘Reboot Ireland’
Although she is receiving much criticism for vague policies other than promising to ‘Reboot Ireland,’ Lucinda Creighton, spearheading Ireland’s newest political movement, has to be admired for her get-up-and-go attitude after being senselessly removed from Fine Gael due to the archaic whip system. By announcing a party ethos which will “support and encourage independent thinking and critical analysis”, we are starting to see an effort towards reform vowed relentlessly in advance of the last general election.
By announcing ‘freedom of conscience’ for members voting on issues of abortion and euthanasia with only strict voting discipline expected on issues relating to economic policy and ‘confidence’, Reboot Ireland offers a realistic approach to modern politics. Combining her impressive academic ability and previous experience at the cabinet table, Creighton’s acceleration to the pinnacle of public office is only beginning.
Photos c/o independent.co.uk, rte.ie, youtube.com, twitter.com, lucindacreighton.ie, forbes.com