But what about the men?

“A truly equal world,” wrote Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in her bestseller, Lean In, “would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.”

A common accusation levelled at feminism is that men and women are equal now so any gains that women make would come at the expense of men. Women can vote, they have access to equal pay in law, they can rise to the top of any profession, what more could they want? Continue Reading →

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Making it work: motherhood and career

Imagine a “female Paradise on earth”, where women succeed alongside men, where women have equal access to the most senior positions and where gender segregation is a thing of the past. That Paradise is right here, right now according to Alison Wolf, author of ‘The XX Factor: How Working Women are Creating a New Society’, but only if you are a high earner.

About 15-20% of women in developed countries fall in this group, which combines higher education, good incomes and prestigious occupations. However, in order to facilitate the success of these women, there has been an increased need for lower-paid jobs in the areas of childminding, cleaning and caring. It is the other 80% of women that fill these and other traditionally female roles and for them, argues Wolf, not a lot has changed in the last forty years. Continue Reading →

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National Infertility Day Ireland

Nobody expects to be in for the long haul when they start trying for a baby. It is supposed to be a time of great hope and anticipation, when you start planning your new lives together. It is true that having a baby changes your life, but not having one changes it so much more. Sadly, this is something that one in six couples will find out.

Before I became that statistic, I never thought too much about it. Although infertility was a fear, it was not something that bore heavily on me – at least, only to the extent that I didn’t want to put off having children for too long, just in case. I didn’t know anyone who was infertile so I could only guess at how hard it might be. Continue Reading →

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When IVF is not the answer

Everybody knows somebody suffering from infertility. With one in six couples affected, there is someone in your family, your circle of friends, your office that is struggling to deal with this. For some, a simple medical procedure or the right drugs will do the trick; for others, it can mean year after year of failed treatments with no explanation why.

IVF is often hailed as a cure-all, the solution that couples turn to when all else has failed. It is not an easy procedure physically, emotionally or financially and, with only a 25% success rate, it does not always provide a happy ending. Continue Reading →

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Ready, Winning and Able

When the Irish Paralympic team returned from Beijing in 2008 with three gold medals, one silver and a bronze, the public started to take notice. Expectations were high for London 2012 but very few people predicted the final tally of sixteen medals – eight gold, three silver and five bronze. Double gold medal winners, Mark Rohan, Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop became household names last summer while the whole Paralympic team stole the hearts of the Irish public. The 2012 Sports Sentiment Index (a survey that looks at attitudes to sport) found that the Irish Paralympics team was the public’s “Team of the Year”. Continue Reading →

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How have women’s lives changed in a generation?

In 1970, Ireland was a very different country for women. A woman could not sit on a jury or keep her job in the public service when she got married. She could not buy contraceptives, refuse marital relations with her husband, live in a different place to him, get a barring order against him or divorce him. Just over a quarter of women had jobs outside the home and those that did could expect to earn about half as much as men. Continue Reading →

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Infertility is not a choice but treatment should be

Infertility is a medical condition. If you have not conceived after 12 months of trying, you can go to your GP, get a referral to a specialist, have some tests done and get a diagnosis such as low sperm count, blocked tubes or polycystic ovaries. At this stage, your specialist can recommend fertility treatment for your medical condition but only if you stump up your own cold, hard-earned cash. Our public health service can bring you as far as a diagnosis of infertility but it will not treat it. If you don’t have the money, your diagnosis is simply the end of the line. Continue Reading →

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Baby Ava: An Irish Surrogacy Story

Caroline O’Flaherty can’t remember a time when she didn’t dream of being a mother. Even when all the odds were stacked against her, in the face of cervical cancer, radical surgery, failures of fertility treatment and adoption, Caroline never gave up hope. Her dream finally came true in April 2011 when her daughter, Ava, was born in India. However, that was only the start of a long, legal battle to bring Ava home to Ireland. Although Caroline and her husband, Niall, are Ava’s biological parents, it was a surrogate that carried and gave birth to their daughter. Continue Reading →

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Family holidays at a fraction of the cost

It’s that time of year again when our thoughts turn to warmer, happier possibilities. Some of us are excitedly planning and booking for the summer ahead, most of us are still dreaming of far off shores and some have already given up hope of seeing them this year. If you are one of the many who have written off the chance of sun this summer, don’t despair! There are ways and means of getting out of this rain-sodden piece of turf and that foreign holiday may not be as far away as you think. Continue Reading →

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Raising Gender Stereotypes – Steve Biddulph

When Steve Biddulph published his international bestseller, Raising Boys, girls were doing “just fine”. Then, about five years ago, he started to notice “a sudden and marked plunge in girls’ mental health”. He decided it was time for a new book and last month Raising Girls hit the bookshelves. Continue Reading →

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The reality of infertility

Nobody expects to be in for the long haul when they start trying for a baby. It is supposed to be a time of great hope and anticipation, when you start planning your new lives together. It is true that having a baby changes your life, but not having one changes it so much more. Sadly, this is something that more than one in six couples will find out. Continue Reading →

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Isn’t it time to take the stigma out of mental health?

Are you normal? Are you sure?

A 2001 World Health Organisation report states that one in four people suffer from mental health problems at some time in their lives. Many health practitioners suggest that the figure is much higher and most published research has found that the lifetime occurrence is closer to 50pc. So what exactly does it mean to be normal?

Continue Reading →

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Families for Rent

There’s a new kid on the block and it looks like he’s here to stay. Well, at least until his lease expires. More and more Irish people are choosing the mobility and flexibility that comes with renting their homes instead of buying them. There has been an 84pc increase in private sector rentals since 2006, with 18.5% of the population now renting. In Dublin, that number is over 30%. Contrary to popular opinion, our levels of home ownership are actually lower than the European average, which stands at 73.6pc compared to 69.7pc in Ireland. Continue Reading →

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Who needs cash?

As a sixth consecutive austerity budget starts to hit us in the pocket, many people are becoming exasperated at the lack of initiatives offered by the government and instead are taking matters into their own hands. Barter and swap groups have been starting all over the country, providing communities with new ways of accessing goods and services they may not have the money to buy. Continue Reading →

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How can friendships survive a new baby?

Marlene Dietrich said “it’s the friends you can call up at 4am that matter”. I’m guessing these friends haven’t just spent two hours pacing the floor with a screaming baby while arguing with their partner about who deserves the most sleep. At that stage, the 4am phone call would have to be really, really important. Continue Reading →

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Why we choose not to send our children to religious schools

Most people don’t think a huge amount about school choices before they have children so it may come as a bit of a shock to some new parents to find that they have little or no choice at all.

97pc of Ireland’s 3300 primary schools are denominational with 93pc run by the Catholic church. Although 84pc of the population still describe themselves as Catholic, those that have no religion form the second largest and the fastest growing group. So what are the options for those seeking a secular education for their children? Continue Reading →

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The childcare money pit

The budget is coming and the leaks have been drip, drip, dripping for months. However, with all the debate over child benefit, are we missing the elephant in the room? Irish childcare costs are now among the most expensive in the world and we have one of the lowest public expenditure on childcare and early education.

According to a 2010 OECD report, Irish parents spend an average of 29% of their incomes on childcare. A full-time Dublin crèche place can cost up to €1100 for just one child, with most crèches offering a discount of only 10% for a second child. As childcare bills now surpass mortgage bills as the major household cost for families, what affect is this having on working parents and, in particular, working mothers? Continue Reading →

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