The Irish Women’s Liberation Movement

Madden, Patricia (2016) The Irish Women’s Liberation Movement. Masters thesis, Griffith College.


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The topic of this radio documentary is that of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement (IWLM) founded in 1970. Particular attention is given to The Contraceptive Train Protest of 22nd May, 1971 carried out by the movement. The documentary focuses on the short life span of the movement and how it tackled the issue of contraception in an Ireland where the sale and distribution of family planning aids was illegal. This was done most notably through the Contraceptive Train protest and subsequently through legislative reform in the later 1970’s and into the 1980’s. Though the movement operated for a brief period, it achieved a lot in terms of consciousness raising for the people of Ireland, particularly for women. The members of the IWLM began the conversation that saw the initial unraveling of the constitutional and religious impact felt by women Ireland. While this is a famous era and movement of Irish history, the movement was disbanded in the Autumn of 1970 and so the voices of its members have not been brought together very often as a collective in this manner. 1970’s Ireland was a time when media coverage of women’s issues was scant and often condescending or patriarchal in tone. This documentary celebrates the members of the movement. It also looks to gain an insight into them as individuals so as to better understand their motivations and feelings about their life roles as activists. Through the use of interviews with three of the movement’s founding members: Nell McCafferty, Mary Kenny and Dr Eimer Philbin-Bowman, the documentary showcases first-hand experience of Ireland’s answer to the second wave of feminism brought about by its sister movement in the United States. 5 The documentary also features commentary from Senator Ivana Bacik and Dr Mary McAuliffe, lecturer in gender studies at University College Dublin (UCD). Dr McAuliffe is a professional historian who contextualizes the movement while Senator Bacik provides the legal context for the issues tackled by the IWLM. The Irish Women’s Liberation Movement offers a fresh look at the second wave feminist movement in Ireland and what we as a society can learn from our predecessors. It is a respectful nod to the movement’s members as well as a lesson to young women of today in the importance of social activism, particularly in the areas of women’s rights and gender equality; where we were, where we are now, and what remains to be achieved.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Radio documentary, Women's Liberation, Contraceptive rights, Feminism, Women's issues, IWLM
Divisions: Faculty of Journalism & Media Communications > MA in Journalism & Media Communications
Depositing User: Ms Dimphne Ni Bhraonain
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2016 12:39
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:12

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