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#FemFest: Young women cite mental health, reproductive health and sex ed as biggest feminist issues

Published: Tuesday, December 03, 2019

As counting for the by-elections gets underway, #FemFest, Ireland’s largest gathering of young women organised by the National Women’s Council of Ireland was held today (30.11.19) in Dublin.

#FemFest heard how mental health, reproductive health and inclusive sex education came out of an NWCI survey of young women as their most important issues.

Opened by Derry Girls actor Siobhán McSweeney, young women discussed the importance of the women in shaping a feminist Ireland.

Siobhán McSweeney said,

"Young women in Ireland today play a critical role in shaping an inclusive, feminist future. In campaigns for abortion care and marriage equality North and South, the voices and activism of young women were central. Events like #FemFest are so important to bring young women together to discuss topics such as reproductive health, mental health, and LGBTQ+ rights. My message to young women is simple. Any one of you can become leaders, and can lead the change needed to bring about a feminist Ireland.”

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,

“In October, NWCI conduced an online survey on the views of young women. From the 141 young women who responded, 72% of young women said mental health was the most important issue to them, in multiple choice questions. This came up again and again in workshops throughout the year, with young women saying that the issues they face, such as street harassment and body image, have consequences for their health, self-confidence and well-being. Women’s inequality should come with a mental health warning for young women, and we are here today to discuss how together, we can smash glass ceilings and gender stereotypes, and shape a new Ireland for young women.” 

“The other topics that young women said were important to them were reproductive health including barriers to contraception and period poverty, with 60% citing it as important. Meanwhile 56% of young women in our survey said that inclusive sex and relationship education, particularly around consent and LGBT+ equality was important.”

Ciara Fanning, speaker at #FemFest and President of the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union said,

“FemFest is a unique event that offers young women a space and a place to discuss the issues that matter most to them, issues like contraception and period poverty. Ireland is changing, and young women are determined to shape that change so it is progressive and transformative, and makes life better for all young women and men who live in Ireland.”

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For more information, please contact Sarah Clarkin, Communications and Social Media Officer, 085 8619087 / Silke Paasche, Head of Communications, 085 8589104.