County Longford Public Participation Network (PPN) Development Officer, Siobhán Cronogue Picture: Shelley Corcoran
County Longford Public Participation Network (PPN) Development Officer, Siobhán Cronogue is an exceptionally busy lady this week with PPN Municipal District plenary meetings taking place across the county and the PPN, alongside the Civil Defence, are also spearheading a humanitarian appeal for Ukraine.
She describes events in Ukraine as heartbreaking. “It’s difficult to comprehend how this can happen in 2022. Everyone feels so helpless. We have seen in the past week how war impacts differently on men and women.”
And asks, “I wonder if there were more women around Putin’s table would we be at war?”
Siobhán says International Women’s Day provides her with the opportunity to remember the great women who have gone before us, “our own mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers, many of whom reared families in poverty, the brave women who went against the norms of the day, the women today who are suffering around the world in Afghanistan, Africa, Ukraine.”
The murder of young teacher Ashling Murphy in January firmly put a spotlight on attitudes towards and violence against women.
Siobhán said violence against women has to stop. “We see the impact of it every day on our screens from female genital mutilation to indiscriminate rape in war, on our streets and tragically in our homes where we should be safe. Here in Longford in 2021, over 400 women, who were experiencing violence, went to Longford Women’s Link for support.”
How will you mark International Women’s Day on Tuesday, March 8?
Longford PPN are holding their Municipal District plenary meetings this week. On Tuesday the meeting is in Granard. The new Longford Community Safety Partnership is consulting with community groups on what they see as important regarding the safety of their community. As only two of our county councillors are women (none in Granard ), it will be an important opportunity for women to get their voice heard because the wellbeing of their family and the safety and security of their homes and communities is a priority. Of course there will be refreshments and an opportunity to chat as well.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It makes me remember the great women who have gone before us, our own mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers, many of whom reared families in poverty, the brave women who went against the norms of the day, the women today who are suffering around the world in Afghanistan, Africa, Ukraine.
#BreakTheBias is the theme for International Women’s Day - applying the theme to your own life and career, what might it mean to you and what is your view or interpretation on the theme?
To me #BreakTheBias means break the assumption that only an elite group of men have all the answers to the world’s problems. While progress for women has been made on many fronts, it is the decision-making area where women are still in a minority. We have seen this very starkly in the past week in relation to the invasion of Ukraine. All of the meetings to decide what to do have a majority of men, indeed many have no women at all. But we have also seen the impact on women. They are the ones leaving everything they know or have behind and trying to get to safety with their children and sick and elderly relatives. What say did they have in bringing about this?
According to the World Economic Forum, gender parity will not be attained for almost a century. Do you agree? Could it be attained sooner? Have you ever suffered at the hands of or know of a family member or friend that has suffered due gender bias?
Without a massive shift in the sharing of the caring roles, looking after children, the sick and the old and the provision of the services to support those roles, it will not be possible to achieve gender parity.
The murder of young teacher Ashling Murphy, the subsequent outpouring of grief, solidarity, vigils held worldwide and anger and it firmly put a spotlight on attitudes towards and violence against women. Have you witnessed change? What needs to change?
Violence against women has to stop. We see the impact of it every day on our screens from female genital mutilation to indiscriminate rape in war, on our streets and tragically in our homes where we should be safe. Here in Longford in 2021, over 400 women, who were experiencing violence, went to Longford Women’s Link for support.
Your thoughts on the invasion of Ukraine?
Heartbreaking. It’s difficult to comprehend how this can happen in 2022. Everyone feels so helpless. We have seen in the past week how war impacts differently on men and women. I wonder if there were more women around Putin’s table would we be at war?
Two ladies that have inspired you in your own life and explain why?
My Mother for her strength and unconditional love. She was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis at 25 and battled illness throughout her life but she still made sure her children wanted for nothing. She passed away 26 years ago and I still miss her gentle smile and caring ways.
In terms of my current work, Tess Murphy is the longest standing female on the PPN Secretariat. Tess is an inspiration to me as she was one of the founding members of Longford Women’s Link and although retired she is still actively involved today. I admire Tess’s commitment to ensuring women have a voice and are part of decision making at local government level. She sits on the Infrastructural Strategic Policy Committee and is a member of the Midland Simon Group. She has given me the confidence over the years to develop the PPN to what it is today.
A brief overview of the work of the PPN and why groups should become involved?
County Longford PPN links community groups with Longford County Council and other decision making agencies. It enables groups to access funding, have a seat at local government committees, grow their capacity and network with each other.
What PPN activities are ongoing?
We launched the Ukraine Appeal last week with Longford Civil Defence and partners and the response so far is overwhelming. A group of Polish women donated medical supplies last Friday. They wanted to ensure that the medical supplies are delivered to the front line rather than donating online. People want to show their support in different ways. It’s so sad to see so many people lose their lives and others being displaced around the world. I also feel bad for the Russian and Belarusian people who don’t want this war.
What PPN plans are in the pipeline?
We are planning to review the PPN Community Wellbeing Vision Statements this year. Community groups in county Longford were the first in the country to develop their visions for future generations. They are important because they feed into Longford County Council plans and strategies. They let decision makers know what is important to people in terms of the environment, work, economy, culture, health and so on. It’s a way for women to have their voices heard and be part of the decision making process particularly as we have so few female county councillors.
Check out our other IWD interviews with inspirational Longford women at the link below:
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