What progress has the campaign for reforms relating to women in Irish society made?

Since the condom train twenty three years ago, the women's movement in Ireland has fought for women's rights and equality. But how much has actually been achieved? Despite progress being made in terms of education, 

Statistics tell us that more Irish women are having children outside marriage, our abortion rate is climbing steadily, and that Irish women are the highest per capita users of the morning after pill in all of Europe.

Derek Davis introduces a discussion on the women's movement in Ireland a movement that some believe has become middle class and exclusive. 

Campaigner for women's rights and Education Officer at Irish Family Planning Association, Ruth Riddick gives an outline of the work that has been done over the past twenty three years. The issues today are very much the same as they were but the context has changed. Laws have changed and the options available to women have been transformed. What is more, the country now has a woman President in Mary Robinson. The key issues remain.

What is the role and value of women in society? 
What are the choices open to women in society? 
What are the challenges facing women in society? 

Ruth Riddick points out a few of the inequalities that still exist. Notably that women still earn just sixty cents to every man's dollar, the glass ceiling in employment,  women still do not have a real choice between working in the labour force or at home, and the lack of access to options around fertility. 

Anna O'Donnell believes that the movement has given Irish women a greater sense of the options that are open to them and a sense of their own importance. However, she feels that the structures of society do not exist to support them. Women hold very little power in many aspects of important decision making for the country. Women's voices are not being heard.  Women end up with two jobs, managing the home and rearing children and employment outside the home.

I think the biggest difference really between men and women, and it will always be there, is the fact that women are the ones who bear the children.

Anna O'Donnell says while feminism has not solved all these problems for women, it has brought these topics out for discussion. 

Gwen McNamara, producer from Anna Livia Radio, believes that education is needed to teach women about issues like self-esteem. Coming out of what she calls 'The Cinderella Period', women are in a stage of transition.  

This episode of 'Davis' was broadcast on 8 February 1995. The presenter is Derek Davis.

'Davis' was a late night discussion programme on serious issues affecting Irish society. The format involved a panel of people with differing views on one subject. The first episode was broadcast on 14 September 1994.