Few women holding positions of power or influence in the town of Clonmel.

Clonmel is a typical rural Irish town with women constituting just over half of the 12,400 population. Where are the women and why do they not hold prominent positions in the town?

Examples of the underrepresentation of women can be found in organisations throughout the town.

Clonmel Corporation has twelve members, just one of who is a woman. The town has five banks, all of which are managed by men.  There are six building societies, just one is managed by a woman. Clonmel women work largely in the lower skilled, lower paid sector of the economy.

There are two newspapers, The Nationalist and The Express both of which have male editors. The Amalgamated Transport Union (ATGWU) has no women shop stewards. The Irish Transport Union has nine women shop stewards out of thirty five. The churches in the town, both Catholic and Protestant, are run by men. All of the local Dáil deputies are also men.

While women are not equally represented in the town, changes have happened and improvements in representation have taken place.  A number of local women discuss the various changes that they have witnessed.

Life has changed for women in Clonmel over the last twenty years and many of the older members of the community do not shed any tears over the loss of some aspects of the world they grew up in. One area specifically is the lack of conversation on the subject of sex and family planning. They are all in agreement that they knew very little about the facts of life.

It was taboo. You didn't talk about it.

They believe that nowadays women have a lot more freedom than in their day.

Life has improved a hundred per cent for women.

While women may not feature prominently in many positions in Clonmel, they do however have a woman President of the Clonmel Chamber of Commerce. President Vera Hewitt considers herself to be a housewife, mother of five children, and a business owner who runs her own bakery. Vera Hewitt hopes her position as president can inspire other women to get involved.

'Women's Programme: Clonmel Women’ was broadcast on 1 March 1985. The reporters are Marian Finucane and Doireann Ní Bhriain.