A rally in Dublin has heard calls for Government action to accelerate progress on women’s equality issues in Ireland.
Hundreds of people attended the “No Woman Left Behind” demonstration outside Leinster House.
The rally was organised by the National Women’s Council (NWC) of Ireland ahead of International Women’s Day on Tuesday.
The crowd heard calls for decisive action to tackle violence against women, as well as demands for more to be done to improve provision of childcare and access to abortion services.
Particular challenges faced by one-parent families and traveller, migrant, trans and disabled women were also highlighted.
Access to state housing was also cited as a major problem.
Addressing the crowds from the platform, NWC director Orla O’Connor said: “It’s an important day for all of us to be here. Today is the day that we want our voices to be heard, and it’s time for the Government to listen and to take action on the issues affecting our lives.”
She added: “You have told us loud and clear that the key issues affecting women’s equality are not advancing and progress is much, much too slow.”
The lead up to the event attracted controversy after it emerged that Government ministers were not on the list of political speakers invited to address the rally.
Organisers defended the move, arguing the event was an opportunity for the Government to listen to the messages being delivered by women.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald was among opposition politicians who did speak at the rally.
She told the event: “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 very 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.”
Ms McDonald also expressed solidarity with the women of Ukraine amid the ongoing war.
“The scenes of horror that we witness daily are matched only by the expressions of incredible courage and bravery as civilians go toe to toe with the Russian aggressor,” she said.
Labour TD Ivana Bacik also used the rally to voice support for Ukraine.
“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 said.
“At this, their darkest hour, we stand with them, and we condemn this appalling and brutal invasion.”