Women's rally brings people to the streets of Dublin to protest gender inequality

On Saturday 5, hundreds of people gathered in front of Leinster House in Dublin to demand government action on gender equality issues.

People marching during the women's rally held in Dublin on March 5.
Image: Twitter - @Aoifva

Last Saturday, the “No Woman Left Behind” women’s rally took place on the streets of Dublin ahead of International Women’s Day on Tuesday 8. The demonstration gathered hundreds of people to protest the too-slow progress in advancing gender equality in Ireland.

The rally, organised by the National Women’s Council, started in front of Leinster House. Speakers from civil society and politics demanded real action from the government to tackle social and economic problems that still profoundly affect women in Ireland.

One of the main topics to be addressed during the rally was how to tackle violence against women. A new national strategy on the issues is currently being brought forward by Justice Minister Helen McEntee and some of the speakers on Saturday welcomed and praised this initiative.


Campaign coordinator with Focus Ireland, Louise Bayliss, spoke about how domestic violence is deeply interlinked with homelessness for women. “So many people ask the question, ‘why doesn’t she just leave?’ Well, where does she leave to? At the moment many people are trapped in abusive relationships because the only places that are left for them are refuges and after refuges, they go into emergency services,” she said.

Tied to the issue of how many women find it difficult to leave abusive situations is that the cost of living for women in Ireland is still too high, another topic that was addressed at the rally. The National Women’s Council director, Orla O’Connor, had this to say on the topic: “We are here today to call for significant investment in tackling the high costs of living and crucial public services, including childcare.

“Our current system does not work for women. We have some of the highest childcare costs in Europe and some of the lowest-paid childcare workers.”

Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Féin leader and one of the few politicians to speak at the rally, added: “We demand the right to decent work, to fair pay, to equal pay, we demand the right to live and raise our families without constant choices to be made between heating the room and feeding a hungry mouth, the right to learn and grow, to explore every horizon, to reach for every dream. We demand the right to be free, to be ourselves, without fear, without apology and without humiliation – the right to live a full and free life together.

“The political system can choose to listen or not, they may choose to look the other way but be very clear sisters – the old Ireland is gone and change is coming.”

The Dublin women’s rally had previously attracted criticism because of the lack of Government ministers included on the list of speakers invited to address the crowd. Orla O’Connor responded to the controversy by arguing that the most important voices to be heard at the rally were those of the women and the women’s organisations attending. “This is a moment for government to listen,” she added.

The “No Woman Left Behind” march and its participants really stayed true to their message even in the face of transphobia. As reported by one of the marchers on Twitter, someone brought a sign to the rally displaying a transphobic message, but the people around them were quick to block the view of the sign with their own. The crowd also started chanting “Trans rights are human rights” until the person who was trying to spread the transphobic message gave up on their mission and left altogether.

The women’s rally in Dublin was also used to voice support for people in Ukraine. Labour TD Ivana Bacik expressed her solidarity with the following words: “In a peaceful Dublin city centre I know all our thoughts and all our solidarity are with the women, children and people of Ukraine as they endure the brutal bombardment and assault from Russian troops and Russian forces,”. She added: “At this, their darkest hour, we stand with them and we condemn this appalling and brutal invasion.”

Other events are taking place to celebrate International Women’s Day. If you’d like to know what’s on, check out our article here.

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