Herstory – Women Who Dared

THE profiles of the 21 women in Women Who Dared 2021 (the free magazine with The Tuam Herald today) are “bookended” in the magazine by two politicians, one historic, the other contemporary. Eileen Costello was one of two women elected to Ireland’s first Seanad in 1922 and Catherine Connolly became Ireland’s first Leas Ceann Comhairle in 2020.

You may remember a text doing the rounds when Vice President Kamala Harris was elected. It read: Rosa sat so Ruby could walk so Kamala could run.

We were reminded that when ordered by a bus driver to give her seat to a White man in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, Rosa Parks refused and continued to sit, although legislation demanded that she give it to a White person as she was Black.

Ruby Bridges was the first African American child to be part of the desegregation of all-white schools when she and her mother were walked into William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans by federal marshals in 1960. Her mother decided that in taking this step, Ruby would “take this step forward … for all African American children”.

And of course, in the past few months Kamala Harris ran successfully for the role of Vice President of the US. Each woman was part of a continuum which led to this great day in 2020.

When Eileen Costello ran for the Seanad in 1922, she was paving the way for Catherine Connolly and the women who have been in the Oireachtas since. We do not have a gender equity record to be proud of in our Oireachtas, as you’ll see in the two charts.

But the gender issue is moving forward and each of us is responsible for ensuring it continues in the interest of balance in our decisions.

Read more in this week's edition of The Tuam Herald