By Suhasini Srinivasaragavan
A women’s health forum took place yesterday evening at the Hardiman Hotel in Eyre Square, Galway.
Dublin North West Senator Annie Hoey of the Labour Party conducted the forum ahead of International Women’s Day on 8 March.
Former Galway Mayor and other Labour Party members were present in the audience that consisted of significantly more men than women.
In her speech, Senator Hoey said that matters relating to women’s health rarely make it to the national agenda.
“Credits to my colleagues from Fianna Fáil for pushing conversations on menopause,” she said, adding that until 2020 she rarely found issues surrounding menopause mentioned in any official capacity.
“It shouldn’t take a group of women to say that ‘we’re going to force the government’s hand’…I would like an Ireland where women don’t have to come and bear their pain publicly to enact change”, she said.
In response to a statement made by an audience member regarding the particular mistreatment of women from minority backgrounds, Senator Hoey questioned, “If Savita was from a different country, would she have been treated the same?”
Higher turnover rate for women
Max Kelly, a former journalist and a labour party supporter questioned the high turnover rate of female medical professionals.
“Around two years ago, for the first time, more than 50 per cent of all medical students were women, but that didn’t translate into the workforce,” he said.
Education and Health
Former mayor of the Galway city council, Níall McNelis, brought up issues such as period poverty, eating disorders, mental health issues and bullying. These issues mainly affect younger schoolgirls. Mr McNelis asked, “Why do we have to rely on charities for support?”
Ciaran Cafforey, another labour party supporter, said that there is a lack of formal education regarding women’s health in schools, especially among boys.
“I cannot remember women’s health education being taught in schools when I was young, and I don’t know if that has changed,” he said.
Senator Hoey said she will take the suggestions to the Seanad for further discussion.