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gender equality

It feels as if women in Ireland are in a constant game of tug of war.

We made progress by repealing the eighth but have been hurdled backwards from rulings like the Belfast rape trial.

But one thing we do have is a voice, and it is being heard now more than ever.

17-year-old Natalya O’Flaherty is speaking up for gender equality through spoken word. Her poetry highlights important issues that continue to plague young girls growing up in modern society.

Her recent piece Not Like Other Girls does just that – levels the childhood playing field and shows that girls cannot be defined ‘from a mindset moulded by man’.

She begins the poem, commissioned by RTÉ, by describing her own ‘tomboy’ experience (the very word itself demonstrates how badly the definition of girlhood needs to evolve).

I never liked pink or glitter or bows. Instead I chose blue and dirt and diggin’.

Never liked lipsticks or perfume, never hung horse-themed posters in my bedroom,

assumed I was not like the other girls, and the other girls were not like me.

I shied away from my femininity, maximised my masculinity

so that the boys wouldn’t pick me last in team chasing.

I’d sooner fall in the muck than be stuck sittin’ with the girls,

all swappin’ stories of the glories of kissing boys. It was all just noise to me.

Natalya was pushed out of both gender groups for having 'masculine' and 'feminine' characteristics.

I didn’t see why I was different but I knew I was.

I didn’t abide by the agreed upon girl code laws.

I didn’t want to be girly or soft or weak.

I didnt want to be considered delicate or meek ‘cause that’s what girls are

– or so I was told.

She was torn in two by a society that was forcing her to choose, compromising her identity to fit traditional gender roles.

Society had pitted me against myself.

I denied my own identity to embody what was said to be for the boys,

but now I know I’m not like other girls.

I can be soft and strong in the same breath.

I can like shoes and makeup and still have depth.

I can be brave while wiping tears on my sleeve.

I can be everything or nothing I’m expected to be.

She ended the poem with this epiphany, coming into her own and accepting who she is:

I can be like the other girls and they can be like me.

Natalya’s daring statements capture what it’s like growing up in Ireland and how much that truly needs to change.

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Gender equality in Ireland is likely to be examined at the next Citizens' Assembly, according to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. 

Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Varadkar spoke highly of the assembly, saying how it had helped politicians gain a greater insight into public opinion. 

He went on to say that while good work had been done in relation the domestic violence issues such as gender pay, gender equality in pensions, and the number of women in top corporate positions needed further examination. 

Meanwhile, there are also calls for gender equality to be considered in the next budget. 

The Joint Committee on Budgetary Oversight are set to look at how legislation impacts the role of women in society when it launches its Gender Budgeting report. 

Committee member and Labour TD Joan Burton explained:

"Basically it's changing the basis on which budgets are prepared to actively include a consideration of budget issues as they affect women -whether that's women at work, women with childcare responsibilities, women looking after older people."

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The leaders of Cannes Film Festival have signed an historic gender equality pledge promising to make the selection process more transparent going forward. 

It comes after a number of female film stars came together to stage a protest against gender discrimination in the industry on the festival red carpet over the weekend. 

Cate Blanchett, Kristen Stewart and Selma Hayek were among those who took part in the demonstration on Saturday, which saw a group of actresses and film-makers link arms as they walked the red carpet. 

Speaking to reporters, Cate Blanchette made a powerful speech about the importance of the cause. 

"Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of the industry says otherwise," she declared.

"We are 82 women, representing the number of female directors who have climbed these stairs since the first edition of the Cannes Film Festival in 1946. In the same period, 1,688 male directors have climbed these very same stairs."

Cannes director Thierry Fremaux signed the pledge in front of a large crowd as the nine-member jury, which included Cate Blanchett, Kristen Stewart and Ava DuVernay, watched on from the front row.

 Mr Fremaux said: “We hope that Cannes will welcome these new initiatives. We hope that it will reinforce the realisation that the world is not the same anymore. The world has changed.

“We must question our history and our habits.”

Cannes is first film festival to signed the pledge but it is expected that others will follow suit. 

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A number of female film stars came together to stage a protest against gender discrimination in the industry at the Cannes Film Festival this weekend. 

Cate Blanchett, Kristen Stewart and Selma Hayek were among those who took part in the demonstration on Saturday, which saw a group of actresses and film-makers link arms as they walked the red carpet. 

Speaking to reporters, Cate Blanchette made a powerful speech about the importance of the cause. 

"Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of the industry says otherwise," she declared.

"We are 82 women, representing the number of female directors who have climbed these stairs since the first edition of the Cannes Film Festival in 1946. In the same period, 1,688 male directors have climbed these very same stairs.

She went on the shed light on the fact that just two women have been awarded the highest prize at the prestigious film festival while 71 men have received the honour. 

"The prestigious Palme d'Or has been bestowed upon 71 male directors, too numerous to mention by name, but only two female directors." 

All of the festivals female jury members took part in the protest which was described as a "massive milestone towards change." 

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Claire Foy won the hearts of many for her Golden Globe-winning role as Queen Elizabeth on The Crown, however, fans were hugely disappointed when reports that she was paid less than her co-star Matt Smith came to light last month. 

It was revealed that Smith, who plays Prince Philip in the Netflix drama, earned a whopping £10,000 more per episode.

In light of the controversy, reports are now claiming that Claire, 33, is set to receive a lump sum of £200,000 (€226,880) from the production company. 

Speaking about the pay gap, the actress recently admitted she was embarrassed by the whole thing, but insisted it was an eye-opening moment that would stick with her for the rest of her career. 

"It definitely opened my eyes to a lot. And I certainly won't be naïve about those things," Foy sad.

"It's really opened my eyes about what I am allowed to have an opinion about, and what I'm allowed to stand up for myself about.

"And I think that's really changed my approach to myself and other women in this industry. It's been only a positive thing – even though, embarrassing."

Matt Smith also commented on the situation, saying how he supported his co-star "completely." 

"I support her completely, and I'm pleased that it was resolved and they made amends for it, because that's what needs to happen," he said.

A new cast will take over Foy and Smith's roles in the next season of The Crown, with an air date yet to be revealed.

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Despite many companies taking strides towards gender equality, the fact of the matter is that women are still experiencing huge push-backs in the work place.

From unjustified pay discrepancies to disrespectful colleagues, female workers often need to go above and beyond in order to receive the same recognition as their male peers. 

Last week, Martin Schneider, a writer and editor at an entertainment publication, took to Twitter to share the challenges he faced after a technical glitch meant that his emails were accidentally signed off with the name of his female co-worker, Nicole Hallberg.

Giving his followers a little background, he explained how his boss was always complaining about how long Nicole took to work with clients.

As her supervisor, it was Martin's responsibility to encourage his colleague to work at a faster pace – though he admits he didn't see it as a huge issue, and was only doing it to keep his boss happy.

Now, here's where the story gets really interesting.

After a string of rude and uncooperative replies from a certain client, Martin realised the problem – all his correspondence had been signed off using the the name “Nicole”.

No prizes for guessing what happened next.

After informing the client that he had taken over the project, Martin saw a huge improvement in communication.

Curious as to whether this was a regular occurrence, Martin asked Nicole if she experienced this kind of behaviour a lot. 

The pair then decide to conduct a two-week experiment, during which time they would sign their emails using each others names. 

Martin decided to bring this blatant example of gender bias to the attention of his boss – but as expected, he was having none of it. 

The thread garnered huge attention online, with many Twitter users sharing the story in an attempt to highlight the kins of sexism that women are forced to deal with on a daily basis.

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Like it or not, the sad reality is that, when it's come to business and boardroom, it's still very much a man's world. 

It's no exaggeration to say that women are statistically less likely to reach the top of the corporate ladder, and while more and more women are making waves in the corporate industry, there remains a distinct lack of representation in top positions. 

In an effort to change the way we shop for goods and services, a female-led research group has created an app that allows consumers to see the number of women in leadership at the world's top brands and businesses.

Founded by journalist Iris Kuo and marketing leader Camille Ricketts, LedBetter Index, Database and Application aims to improve to give the public a closer look at which companies promote gender equality in leadership, allowing women to affect change with their buying power.

After receiving a grant from the International Women's Media Foundation Howard G. Buffet Fund, the app was formally launched in June 2016.

Exposing the gender ratio at the top 230 companies worldwide, LedBetter gives each business a score out of 100.

With an average female representation of just 20.9 per cent, the index highlights the need for greater equality on corporate boards across the globe.

Just nine companies managed to break the 40 per cent mark – a figure Iris describes as “disappointing”

Speaking to The Huffington Post, she said: “We were heartened to see there are companies out there that are close to approaching gender equality. It’s disappointing there aren’t more.”

While we still have a long way to go, LedBetter enables consumers to promote change and pave the way for the growth of women in business. 

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Believe it or not, a new study has revealed that Irish men are a cut above their European counterparts when in it comes to household cleanliness.

Research conducted by the Dublin-based agency EuroFound, shows that 48 per cent of Irish males and 89 per cent of Irish females do housework on a daily basis.

According to The Irish Examiner, the figures put us way ahead of the European average which stands at just 34 per cent for men and 79 per cent for women.

What's more, the study also found that the sharing of household chores is more evenly divided between Irish men and women, in comparison to our most neighbours on the continent – (though Sweden and Latvia claimed the number one spot).

However, while these figures might seem like a positive result for the male population of Ireland, the 2017 Periscope Report from Bord Bia showed that Irish women still do the majority of food shopping and cooking, with just 29 per cent of men saying they take responsibility for meal preparations.

We still have some way to go when it comes to gender equality in Irish households, but hey, at least we know that, male or female, we're amongst the tidiest people in Europe. 

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A vegan café in Melbourne, Australia, are charging male customers an 18 per cent 'man tax' in an effort to address the gender pay gap.

Handsome Her, described as a café 'for women, by women', also offer priority seating to females and asks that those who choose to dine at the establishment respect the rules.

According to Seven News, the 18 per cent premium runs for just one week a month and is completely optional, though no one has refused to pay so far.

“If men don't want to pay it, we're not going to kick them out the door. It's just an opportunity to do some good,” says café owner, Alex O'Brien.

The proceeds from the premium go to women's services and the café plans to rotate charities four times per year.

As a self-proclaimed “feminist, not the fun kind”, Alex told Broadsheet that she hopes to start a conversation and raise awareness around the issue of the gender pay gap.

“We’re bringing it to the forefront of people's minds. I like that it is making men stop and question their privilege a little bit,” she said.

“One of my friends who works for a not-for-profit women's service was talking about the pay gap and I thought it was a good idea, so we decided that one week every month we would charge men an 18 per cent premium, which we will donate.”

The move has sparked a mixed reaction online, with some Twitter users criticising the café's “inhospitable man policy.”

But of course, many were in favour of the move. 

According to Metro.co.uk, one male customer even donated $50.00 because he love the concept so much.

August's proceeds will go to Elizabeth Morgan House, which helps Aboriginal women and children.

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Today, the Seanad will debate the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2017.

If made into law, the Bill would require organisations with more than 50 employees to publish regular wage surveys aimed at measuring their internal Gender Pay Gaps.

'The EU figures show that in Ireland, women currently earn around 13.9 per cent less than men – better than the equivalent gap in the UK, where the difference is 19.5 per cent, but still impacting significantly on women’s careers and incomes,' wrote Labour Party Senator Ivana Bacik in her column for The Journal.

'Put another way, that figure equates to women in full time employment working for free in Ireland for about one month of every year.'

'Following the introduction of European pay equality directives, we passed equal pay legislation in Ireland more than forty years ago, in 1974, yet women still have not achieved anything close to pay parity with our male colleagues.'

The bill will be brought to Seanad attention today to be discussed by the Government. 

'Labour understands that there is a range of factors, including the issue of unconscious bias, which contributes to gender inequality in the workplace,' commented spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs, Jan O’Sullivan.

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Fernwood fitness club posted a video on their Facebook page, and it has gained viral status for a fantastic reason. 

In this moving video, a group of young girls, ranging from the ages of 6-12, are interviewed.

The question these youngsters are asked is: "Has anyone ever told you that you can't do something because you're a girl?"

The answers are heartbreaking, with each of these beautiful girls claiming they have been held back from sports based on their gender. 

"I've been told I can't do basketball, because it's a boy's sport" said 10-year-old Meg. 

However, these girls may have been told they can't do certain things, but that has NOT stopped them. 

12-year-old Stephanie tells the interviewer that she believes "that all girls can do the same things that boys can do"

The video sends an inspirational message to girls all over the world: You can do anything! 

 A number of people have left positive comments on the video, with one saying "LOVE this- girls rule!"

"Aim for your dreams and believe in yourself always" wrote a proud mum of one of the girls in the video. 

We LOVE this! 

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Emma Watson made headlines four months ago when she gave an eloquent and moving speech to the UN about gender inequality.

Now the actress has spoken out on the issue again, taking to the stage at the Davos World Economic Forum in her role as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador.

The Harry Potter star said she was "stunned" by the response to her original speech and her call for men and women to work harder in the fight against gender inequality.

"Everything from marathons being run, merchandise being created, 15-year-old boys writing to national newspapers deploring female discrimination, young girls collecting hundreds of signatures –  it’s all happened in the last four months,” she said. “I couldn’t have dreamed it, but it’s happened. Thank you so much.”

Emma told the forum's audience about the new IMPACT 10x10x10 initiative, which asks people from all walks of life to share their gender equality stories and to tell the world what they are doing as part of the #HeForShe project.

"Girls, who have been your mentors? Parents, did you make sure you treated your children equally? If so, how have you done it? Husbands, have you been supporting your female partner privately so that she can fulfil her dreams too? Young men, have you spoken up in a conversation when a woman was casually degraded or dismissed?" asked the star.

She continued by asking people to be transparent about their actions and to share them with others. "Decide what your commitment is, make it public and then please report back to us on your progress, so that we can share your story," said the actress.

More information about the UN's #HeForShe project and the new initiative can be found here.

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