Last year, Irish Country Living was shortlisted for the Newsbrands 2020 Newspaper Magazine of the Year. We were beaten (narrowly, I am assuming) by the Irish Times Magazine.

The issue that was shortlisted was the paper from this week last year. Easily remembered for the striking image of Mary Troy, resting her arms on the back of one of her cows, that was on the cover. It was also the edition for International Women’s Day (IWD) 2020.

This year, our IWD 2021 feature is with Mairead McGuinness, EU Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and the Capital Markets.

Her portfolio will play a major role in our recovery post COVID-19. Achieving financial stability in an EU with unprecedented unemployment and a requirement to fund the massive climate change ambitions it has set will be no easy feat.

Mairead McGuinness chairing debates as an MEP in the European Parliament.

\ © European Union

Only for it was too long, this quote from Mairead would have been this quote of the week: “When I was 17, I didn’t see the need for gender mainstreaming; believing that women would succeed on merit. I’m now 61 and know that has not been the reality. Without proactive policies in place, the gender issue will not be addressed.”

Gender mainstreaming is a strategy being promoted across all EU institutions that involves the integration of a gender perspective into all aspects of policies, regulatory measures and spending programmes. The fact a strategy exists shows that issues remain to achieving gender equality. The EU parliament recently adopted MEP Frances Fitzgerald’s report: The gender perspective in the COVID-19 crisis and post-crisis period.

The report calls on countries to incorporate targeted actions to improve gender equality in recovery plans and the Commission to support women entrepreneurs by improving access to finance and introducing incentive measures that would encourage men to take up flexible working.

We have good advice on finances this week. In Consumer Watch, Ciara outlines the importance of budgeting, be that in the home or in business. Money Mentor, Margaret, advises on investments either on or off the farm.

Women in vulnerable groups are particularly badly impacted

Aside from finance, women across the world suffer from poverty which Government defines as “if income and resources (material, cultural and social) are so inadequate as to preclude them from having a standard of living which is regarded as acceptable by Irish society generally”. Women in vulnerable groups are particularly badly impacted.

Janine writes about another form of poverty often not spoken about: period poverty. Plan International Ireland carried out a survey that revealed that nearly 50% of Irish teenage girls struggle to afford sanitary products. These results encouraged Trinity College Students’ Union to support students through the provision of period products in the college’s bathrooms. Without access to fundamental health care provisions, women can drop out of education, sport and their confidence can be impacted long term.

Men, for International Women’s Day, read something in this week’s issue that you might think “that isn’t for me”. Try the Desperate Farmwife or mental health. Understanding and respecting each other is key to achieving the equality we are striving for.

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Representation for all

‘Doctors differ and patients die’ – an old adage, but true