learn > news

Latest News

FemFest: Young women to speak about sexual violence and harassment  

Published: Saturday, November 19, 2022

Women aged 16-25 will gather on Saturday to discuss topics important to them, particularly sexual violence, body diversity, and bystander culture – ie the need for everyone to play their part in addressing sexual violence and promoting zero tolerance. FemFest is organised by the National Women’s Council (NWC) and follows on from a series of workshops with organisations and secondary schools where young women identified key issues for them.   

NWC Director Orla O’Connor said:  

“Despite recent advances, it is still not easy being a young woman today. Young women face many challenges including sexual abuse and misogyny, body image pressures, and intersectional discrimination which can have an impact on their full and equal participation.” 

Research has shown that one in five young women have suffered intimate relationship abuse, and 27% have  experienced rape. The root causes of sexual and domestic violence persist, and in particular the younger women NWC met expressed a real need  for more effective  education in this area.  

Caitlin Faye Maniti, president of the Irish Secondary Schools Union, said: 

“Having safe spaces like FemFest is really important. Young women want to learn what healthy relationships look like but due to the general lack of education on sex and relationships many young women simply aren't being educated about these issues in school. Unfortunately, the society we live in means we are surrounded by the toxic, misogynist attitudes that underlie sexual violence and we must be able to understand and tackle this, head on. Most importantly, our society needs to properly educate young men and boys so they know that misogyny is not acceptable anymore and that it’s never ok to engage in sexual violence or domestic abuse.” 

Georgia Grogan, lone parent and student activist, said:  

“We need to move past this idea that the onus is on women to safeguard themselves from unwanted advances and inappropriate remarks. It’s time for men to step up and start playing their part. This means challenging misogynist ‘banter’, intervening against sexual  harassment, and standing up for the women in their lives.”  

During the workshops, young women also spoke to NWC about their concerns around body image and social media, with a clear link made between unrealistic body standards and poor mental health. Many young women expressed a desire that a diversity of bodies – including trans, disabled, and fat bodies – be celebrated in the public realm. 

FemFest will be facilitated by Dil Wickremasinghe and will feature a host of diverse women who are driving change in Irish society. FemFest is sponsored by Aviva. 

Ends/ 

What: NWC FemFest 2022 

When: Saturday 19 November 2022, 10am to 5pm 

Where: Academy Hotel Plaza, O’Connell St, Dublin 1 

Find here the full programme for the day, including all speakers: https://www.nwci.ie/images/uploads/15895_FemFest_2022_Programme_V1.pdf

Press photos will follow on Saturday morning.  

For more information, please contact Sinéad Nolan, NWC Communications and Social Media Coordinator, sineadn@nwci.ie 

Notes: 

Statistics on violence against women: https://www.womensaid.ie/about/policy/natintstats.html 

Caitlin Faye Maniti 

Caitlin Faye Maniti is the President of the Irish Secondary Schools Union. She has been involved with ISSU since 2020 and served as a Donegal Regional officer in 2021. She leads the Union, acting as the main representative and spokesperson for ISSU. As part of her term as President, Caitlin is particularly looking forward to working on issues such as Leaving Cert reform and fulfilling ISSU’s seat on the NCCA. As the ISSU’s first female president of colour, it is important to Caitlin that the Union is empowering the voices of ALL students, especially those who are usually underrepresented. 

Georgia Grogan 

Georgia is almost 24 years old. First and foremost, she is the sole-parent to a gorgeous little girl named Skye. Skye has additional needs, which means that as well as being a young mam, she is also a young carer. She is currently a student at DCU, studying Law and History.  

It’s been through her time at University and the experience she has gained being a carer that she has met the most inspiring women. She has always been passionate about social justice issues and the role politics can have in delivering change. She is a member of the STAND society at DCU, and through this she has learnt what it means to be an activist, and how to drive positive change. 

About NWC  

The National Women’s Council is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. We have over 190 member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters. 

The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work.  

We are a movement-building organisation rooted in our membership, working on the whole island of Ireland. We are also part of the international movement to protect and advance women’s and girls’ rights. Our purpose is to lead action for the achievement of women’s and girls’ equality through mobilising, influencing, and building solidarity. Find out more on www.nwci.ie