According to UCD Students’ Union Gender Equality Co-Ordinator Ciara Johnson, the purpose of the week was to “raise awareness of Gender Equality issues and to campaign against stereotyping and discrimination. We aimed to promote the message that regardless of whether you are male, female or transgender, you should be valued by what’s on the inside and not by the stereotype that society places on you”. She stated there was “an extremely positive response from students over the week, with many suggesting follow-on ideas or looking to get involved.”
Johnson believes that the issues highlighted by the week are of importance to UCD students. She explains that gender equality is of concern in many aspects of student life, for example “female representation on the Union, ensuring all our campaigns don’t exclude any gender and even down to lecturers or students using language which is offensive to a particular gender.”
Four themes were reflected in the week’s events: gender equality in society, LGBT issues, overcoming stereotypes, and body image. Among the events that took place were a National Youth Council of Ireland training course on gender and equality issues, a body image workshop and a debate on gender quotas. The debate featured speakers such as Labour TD Joanna Duffy, Fine Gael County Councillor Barry Ward, 5050 Group’s Claire McGing and Labour Women’s Angelina Cox. A healthy eating demonstration with Clever Cuisine and UCD Masterchef Winner 2012, Maeve DeSay, also took place.
One of the events which “really captured students’ imaginations” was the interactive ‘I Heart Me’ tile mosaic, where students painted the feature they like most about themselves on a tile, by filling in the message ‘I love my -’. Johnson explains that the idea was “to focus the mind on what they really like about themselves and helping them realise just how great they really are. We are all different and none of us are perfect, but we should celebrate our differences rather than comparing ourselves to others and learn to love ourselves”. After being baked and glazed, the tiles will be displayed in the Student Centre.
Planned for week 10 of the semester is Stay Safe Day, which will focus on domestic abuse and sexual assault. Johnson explains that this is a theme which “needs to be addressed for both men and women.”