I DIDN’T realise how powerful I am. I must be if the UK Government wants to shut me down, silence me. I’ve been fortunate enough to march and rally over the years after returning home. Anti-Thatcher, anti-nuclear, anti-war; pro-independence, pro-Palestine. I joined a march once in Paris, pro-pedestrian. I’ve no idea what we were marching for when as a small child I was with my mother and father in a parade in Dublin. They said it was the right thing to do.

I have even earlier memories of the miners’ galas in the King’s Park. It was the right thing to go to and witness, to be part of. A form of resistance: your marching feet, your voice. Sometimes, it may be all you have, if you’re disenfranchised within your community, your country. When those in power try to silence us, or stop cars and buses as folks travel to a meeting point, when they attack the visuals and the messages on banners, flags, placards and bring forth draconian threats aimed at us, you know they fear us.

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From the time of recorded history it’s always been the strong, the victors, the powerful who control the voices, then the stories, then the legacies. The travelling bards of early years who brought tales of kings and battles and news of change were, in the main, men. A woman, travelling on her own or heading a “band” of travellers and troubadours? Not possible in a patriarchal society reinforced by civil and religious law. So it is difficult to find the women who resisted, along with their stories and their actions.

Simultaneously, with the decline of the bards and their role in society, it is no surprise that storytelling ended up the province of women but relegated to bed time and nursery tales, used to frighten children. But we’re here, not a footnote to be dusted down, paraded out once a year. We know it was a struggle in the past to be seen, heard and remembered so with that as the backdrop, it’s worth remembering feminist, journalist and activist Gloria Steinem, who said “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

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Coming full circle we see the notion of equality, far less its practice and the reality of human rights, being trampled on, ignored and weakened both here and abroad. We need the “efforts of all” to bring about parity, especially since the most recent World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report (2023) reported it will take 131 years to reach full gender parity!

Yes, there have been great strides for mothers, workers (paid, unpaid, inside and outside the home), carers and students, reaching new heights in comparison to our foremothers. Those of us fortunate enough to climb up the ladder remember to help those behind. So let’s shame those that climb the ladder then pull it up behind!

The call is for persistence, perseverance, being thrawn, or the deep-down knowledge that women are the designers of humanity. So no parliament, no government is ever going to shut us down.

Just remember: wha’ daur meddle wi us wimmin.

Selma Rahman

RHODA Meek was spot on (Mar 3) when she said that Gaelic is being killed, and condemned the fact that questioning the “Gaelic world” is hugely damaging. There is a policy of shooting the messenger, rather than considering that she or he might have a point and something should at least be investigated. Throwing funding at something which doesn’t work, or pretending that an institution is successful despite the evidence to the contrary, just speeds up the decline. After more than 20 years of a publicly funded Gaelic centre in Islay, Gaelic is now pretty much dead here.

Mairead Mackechnie
Isle of Islay