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By Kusi Okamura

As a toddler my daughter can be demanding.
So is the nature of toddlers so it comes as no surprise.
But the thing I find that she demands the most is equality.  In our little domain of the family, she wants to be the same as everyone else, particularly her older brother.
Anything that he does, she wants to do.
Anything that he has, she demands as her right too (even if this is a stomach ache).
Maybe this is what all children with siblings are like.
But watching her develop and grow I am impressed by her sense of self.  She feels herself deserving of equal treatment, she sees it as her right.
And sometimes the demanding can get tiresome, and sometimes I just don’t have space for it.
But other times I look at her and I think ‘you go girl.’

* * * *

We all heard the stories.
The stories of new-born babies abandoned
by young girls who had hidden their pregnancies,
in shame and in fear.
We all knew someone.
Someone who had taken the test,
then taken the boat trip across the waters
for an abortion, afraid, alone.

This is what it was like as a woman in Ireland.

We were our very worst enemies.
Temptresses, sinners.
Or so we were told.
Our bodies were hallowed vessels
That in one Eve moment
Could become objects of shame.

This is what it was like as a woman in Ireland.

The very worst thing was to be unmarried,
And pregnant.  The very worst thing.
Or so we were told.
And when women were at their most vulnerable,
when they needed support the most,
they were vilified, criminalised.

The shocking inhumanity of it.

As an Irish woman the current Repeal the 8th movement is of huge importance to me.  The Eighth Amendment in the Irish Constitution states that the life of the foetus is equal to the life of the mother, and criminalises abortion in all cases except in extreme cases where the continuation of the pregnancy would result in death.  This is an archaic and negligent law that is a violation of what should be every woman’s right to have control over her own body.

The strength of the movement to repeal this amendment, to move towards dealing with the reality of abortion for Irish women, is now being powered by a new generation of young women, and it gives me enormous hope.  With the shift in the power of the Catholic Church, Irish women seem to be regaining a power and strength that they had lost in previous generations.  The power to speak out.  To highlight injustice and inequality. To demand control over their own bodies.

As an Irish woman I know Irish women who will fight for everybody else but themselves.  Who will call out unfairness when they see it.  But somehow in previous generations we were so disempowered that we just accepted being to be told what to do and when to do it in relation to our bodies.  We relinquished control, our voices extinguished.

The REPEAL movement is symbolic of this new rising up of Irish women who are now saying enough is enough.  This must be supported.

* * * *

Mother needs something today to calm her down

And though she’s not really ill

There’s a little yellow pill

She goes running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper

And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day

–    Rolling Stones

There are times I think about what it was like to be a woman in the past and I shudder.  I can understand why there were whole generations of women addicted to Valium.
Why there were whole generations of women who swallowed a pill to get through their day.
Because they swallowed whole what their church told them, what their state told them,
About who they were to be,
About what their bodies were allowed do.
There were whole generations of women who swallowed their fear.
Their anger.

And though we still have a long way to go towards equality between men and women, I feel there is a new awakening.  A new acceptance of what it means to be a feminist.  A new understanding.  Recently Barack Obama and the Canadian president Justin Trudeau caught people’s attention by announcing that they were actually feminists.  This blew some people’s minds, that men of this stature would claim such a title.  But then there was also a kind of head-slapping ‘duh’ moment.  A kind of at-bloody-last sigh, because even though it should be a taken that these presidents, these leaders believe in the equality of men and women, there is still a need for it to be said, to be heard.

And there is a feeling that women are ready for equality now.  That women have reached saturation point with the injustice, the inequality in the workplace, home, country that they live in.  They are done with being slapped on the arse and told to be a good girl.
Because enough is enough.

I’m proud of the feminist writing in this issue, and the passion and conviction behind it.
In ‘Sisters Are Doing it For Themselves…And the World’, our Progressive Punch columnist Maria Behan writes about the misogyny of Trump, and rising up of Pussy-ites who are grabbing back and who are going to elevate Hillary Clinton to President of the United States.
In ‘Unbecoming’, our Behind Domestic Lines columnist Jami Ingledue writes about the need for women to shed the expectations and roles of a patriarchal society, to allow themselves be free and powerful.
And in ‘Making a Stand’, we hear from Clare Lanigan about her political and personal awakening while campaigning for reproductive rights.

This issue is about the power of women, of power reclaimed.

Because the thing is, when our children see their mothers being proud and powerful, asserting their rightful place in society, then they see that as their right.

There is nothing more than important than that.

Kusi Okamura is the founder and editor of The Wild Word magazine.  She lives with her family in Berlin, Germany