Feminism has come a long way on this tiny island nation where all women over the age of twenty one only received the right to vote in 1922 (twenty nine years after the trail blazing women of New Zealand received the same right). It appears that every generation of feminists in Ireland have had their own defining struggle moulded by opposition to discriminatory laws. Our grandparents fought for the fundamental right to vote led by iconic female trailblazers such as Hannah Sheehy Skeffington and Countess Markievicz. These women have solidified their positions in the history books at the helm of the suffragette movement in Ireland.
In the 1970’s a second wave of feminism hit Ireland in the form of ‘The Contraceptive Train’, a group of women who travelled to Belfast by train to purchase condoms and bring them back down to the Republic of Ireland much to the horror of the church. These women were mostly housewives turned activists who were discontented with having their reproductive rights decided by arbitrary laws. They took the law into their own hands and created a media storm in the train station. They discovered that creating and normalising the narrative was half the battle in legalising contraception in Ireland. They broke down the walls of silence that shrouded contraception in Ireland for generations. These forward thinking women laid the foundations for the desertion of the illogical and uninformed law and invited the separation of church and state in Ireland.
In 2017 we are tasked with following in the footsteps of our fellow Irish feminists in fighting for abortion rights. It is our duty to continue blazing a trail down the path that has been created historically. Repealing the eighth amendment to the constitution is a defining struggle of our generation and it is imperative that we continue the work of generations before us in insuring fundamental rights for future generations. With the rise of social media and technology it is becoming increasingly easy to create narratives and informed debates surrounding all aspects of abortion, so easy in fact that it is inexcusable that we sit back and leave it to the government to decide. We must imitate our ancestors to insist that our voices are heard and write our names into the history books of Irish feminists.