International Women's Day 2011 Celebrations in Cork


'Celebrate Revolutionary Women' banner on display outside Solidarity BooksTuesday March 8th was International Women's Day, and to celebrate it Cork WSM and several other organisations in the city organised a number of events in various locations. Ahead of the day on Saturday and Sunday, the Cork Sexual Violence Centre in Camden Quay and the Women's Studies Department of UCC respectively held celebratory events. On the day itself, events marking it were held around the city.

Events were held at the Quaker Meeting House on Summerhill South (lunchtime, Julianna Minihan on “Equality & Democracy: The Life & Work of Alice Paul (U.S. women's suffrage activist)), Solidarity Books on Douglas St.(12 noon - late), Linc (Lesbians in Cork) on White St.(lunchtime, display of Linc photo archives, plus tea, cakes and chat), Dervish Bookshop & Holistic Centre on the Coal Quay (all day, various events), and the Cork Feminista group at 8 North Mall (talks, poetry & music from 7 – 10 p.m.).

At Solidarity Books, the day's events started at 12 noon with film shows on feminist topics continuing until 6 p.m. Films shown varied from documentaries on the 1992 'X' case and the Scottish anarchist broadcaster and activist Ethel MacDonald to short films on womanhood by Agnes Varda and other women filmmakers. At 6 p.m. a 'community meal' was served by volunteers in Fionnbarra's pub, across the road from the bookshop, which drew a large crowd, many of whom attended the public talks at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. in Solidarity Books.

The first talk was given by Margaret O'Regan, a veteran socialist activist, on the subject of the history of reproductive rights struggles in Ireland in the 20th and 21st centuries, including the story of her own involvement in the setting-up and running of the Cork Family Planning Clinic in the 1970s. This talk was hugely informative, reviving memories for many people of the hard struggles by Irish women to gain some measure of control over their own reproductive systems. The discussion afterwards was particularly lively, with many contributors from the floor adding their own reminiscences and perspectives.

The second talk was given by Nicola Morry of Cork WSM on the origins of International Women's Day, and its meaning and potential for women of today. This talk, originally written by Aileen O'Carroll of the WSM, gave account of the events and struggles that this day of celebration commemorates, from working women and trade unionists of a century or more ago, through the mid-century celebrations of the day in the Soviet Union and many other countries to the present day and the important political and social issues confronting today's women.

Quite a number of people stayed after the talks to discuss further the topics raised in the talks, and to give a hand with the tidying-up after the day's celebrations. Given the number of organistaions hosting and organising events, future celebrations of International Women's Day in Cork look to be assured. Many thanks are due to the numerous people who gave of their time, skills and resources to make the day the success it was, and the day's events will hopefully inspire yet more women to get involved in the continuing struggles for equality and liberation.

Julianna Minihan's talk at the Quaker Meeting HouseFilm showings at Solidarity BooksEnjoying the Community Meal at Fionbarra's, Douglas St.Margaret O'Regan giving her talk on Reproductive Rights struggles in Ireland and CorkNicola Morry of Cork WSM giving her talk on The Origins of International Women's Day