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11th Mar 2024

New advisory committee aims to spotlight women’s contributions in Irish history and culture

Sophie Collins

Women in history, Catherine Martin

Minister Catherine Martin has unveiled plans to address the under-representation of women’s contributions to Ireland’s history and culture.

The Minister is establishing an Advisory Committee on the Representation of Women and Women’s Stories within the collections of the National Cultural Institutions.

The move comes in response to a growing recognition of the need to highlight women’s achievements in various fields such as politics, science, social, and cultural spheres. 

The committee will recommend actions to showcase these achievements within the National Cultural Institutions and the National Collection.

Led by Dr. Sandra Collins, University Librarian at University College Dublin and former Director of the National Library of Ireland, the advisory committee comprises members from national cultural institutions, historians, experts in gender studies, representatives from the National Women’s Council of Ireland, relevant government departments, and individuals with diverse expertise.

Minister Martin emphasised the importance of equality and the need to recognise women’s contributions to Irish society. 

She expressed confidence in the committee’s ability to address imbalances in the representation of women’s stories and stressed the importance of highlighting the voices of historically marginalised women.

Dr. Collins, as the chair of the advisory committee, expressed her honor at being appointed to the role and pledged to work with all members to make meaningful recommendations on the representation of women and their stories.

The committee’s mandate includes considering the possibility of creating a dedicated presentation of women’s stories, which may include establishing a women’s museum, re-imagining the National Collection, or other appropriate initiatives.

Minister Martin acknowledged the committee’s responsibility to reflect the diversity of women’s lives and amplify the voices of historically marginalised women. 

She expressed optimism that the initiative would spark conversations about how women’s stories are recorded and represented, thereby impacting individual and societal perceptions.

“While we are at the beginning of this journey, I am confident that the work of this committee will help address the imbalances that persist in the representation of women’s stories. I have asked the committee to take account of the diversity of women’s lives and to bring to the fore the voices of historically marginalised women.

“I am confident this initiative can help start conversations about how we record and represent the stories of women in our history, and the impact that under-representation has on how we see ourselves at both an individual and societal level.”