It is International Women’s day today and only 23 female TDs were elected to the new Dail. I know how hard it is to engage a male audience with women’s issues; the subject evokes images of messy things in the childbirth area that quickly make them click on another link.
And no one should dare criticise the Irish Mammy; after all everyone has one, and most are above reproach, the very foundation stones of the State. This is why the subject of gender equality in Ireland has remained ‘the elephant in the room’ and this huge resource of talented women is either burnt out or wasted. The Irish Mammy is capable, resourceful, prudent, kind and works every hour God gave.
But she is she is ONE ANGRY MOTHER.
My best friend, lets call her Bridget, is a typical case and would win Mammy of the year. She has four children, does all the housemaid bits, works three nights as a nurse, and Saturday as a hairdresser. I like her husband, everyone does, he has a job, is a GAA supporter in his spare time, mows the lawn, but is incapable of lifting a finger in the house or with the children. She calls him ‘traditional’, I would call him something else, and it begins with C.
Bridget jumped in her car last year with: ‘f*** you all’ and drove to Salthill Strand to contemplate the benefits of oblivion. Luckily for everyone she just smoked a few fags and came home.
I do not buy in to the victim role of the woman, or the utter contempt for men shown by the packs of wives when they get together over a bottle of wine. But there is a cultural problem and we need to break the cycle of guilt, blame and victimisation or we will just breed a new generation of Mammy’s boys.
The World Bank calls investing in women ‘smart economics’. Having this amazing resource tethered to the kitchen sink when we are in this crisis makes no sense.
I have a simple plan to get those women generating enterprise and taking steps towards the Dail.
The School Dinner Revolution.
• Design a healthy menu
• Involve the kids in growing their own food
• Employ people to cook school dinners
• Build individual kitchens or group small schools together
• Provide free after school child care to the end of the working day if both partners work or if you are a single parent.
The benefits of this scheme would be
• All Irish Mammys instantly unshackled from the kitchen sink and free to contribute to society and raise self esteem for themselves and their children.
• Employment is created within the food supply chain and in the local community
• You have fed the most vulnerable disadvantaged children.
It makes NO sense to have brilliant women like Bridget stuck in their kitchen cooking for 6 people every day when one person could cook for 100 and get paid for it.
If we are getting 20,000 jobs a year let 10,000 of them be for women. Why doesn’t Enda Kenny start up a few pilot school dinner schemes in villages around the country?
The Irish Mammy can clean up this mess.
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