International Women's Day
International Women's Day
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International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day: A celebration of Northern Ireland’s women, past and present

Celebrating the achievements of the women of Northern Ireland

International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women across the world. It's also a time of reflection and a call to action for women's equality.   

Despite modern social media coverage, International Women’s Day is over 100 years old, with the initial International Women’s Day gathering dating back to 1911 to the era of the suffragettes. Although historically marked by women, the day has become a worldwide collective celebration, open to all.   

In honour of the history of International Women’s Day and the progress that has been made since its inception, we look at some of the achievements of the women of Northern Ireland, both past and present and the ways they have positively shaped Ireland and beyond.    

NI Women in History  

Sophia Roasmund Preager (1867–1954)  

Born in Holywood, County Down, Sophia Rosamund Praeger was an Irish artist, sculptor, poet and writer. During the course of her life, she wrote and illustrated over twenty-five children's books and provided illustrations for The Irish Homestead, Gaelic League pageants and designs for the Irish Women's Suffrage Federation. Her work is said to have 'played a significant role in the late Victorian and early twentieth century Irish Art World'.  

Jocelyn Bell Burnell   

Jocelyn Bell Burnell was featured in last year’s article and remains one of the leading astrophysicists of our time. Hailing from County Armagh in Northern Ireland, the pioneering researcher is best known for discovering pulsating radio stars while working as a postgraduate researcher at Cambridge University. The BBC described the findings as "one of the most significant scientific achievements of the 20th century".   

Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan  

In 1976 Belfast women Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan were awarded a Nobel peace prize 'for their courageous efforts in founding a movement to put an end to the violent conflict in Northern Ireland'. The movement, known as the Community of Peace People, aimed to bring an end to the conflict between religious groups in Northern Ireland using non-violent strategies.   

Achievements in 2022 and beyond   

Naomi Long  

Alliance Party Leader Naomi Long was named as one of the world's most influential and inspiring women in December 2022, joining the likes of European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, musician Billie Eilish and Rwandan football referee Salima Rhadia Mukansanga on the BBC's annual '100 Women' list. Mrs Long has been recognised for introducing legislation to tackle several new sexual offences.   

Jan Carson  

Born in Ballymena, County Antrim, the critically acclaimed author returned with her new novel 'The Rapture' at the start of January. This story, set in Northern Ireland in 1993, is posited as a dark supernatural mystery and has already received a positive critical review.   

Emma Moran  

You might not have heard of Emma Moran yet, but this is soon set to change. 2023 started with a bang for the NI screenwriter, whose debut superhero sitcom 'Extraordinary' aired on Disney+ at the start of January, being well received by audiences.    

Lisa McGee  

With the final season of Derry Girls airing in May 2022, creator Lisa McGee has been celebrated for her positive portrayal of Northern Ireland to a global audience.   

Brooke Scullion 

Hailing from Bellaghy, County Londonderry, Brooke took to the big stage to represent Ireland with her song ‘That’s Rich’ in last year’s Eurovision.   

NI Women's Football Team  

After reaching the UEFA Women's EURO for the first time in the summer of 2022, 2023 could be a watershed year for women's football in Northern Ireland.  

Bethany Firth 

Bethany is Northern Ireland’s most successful Paralympian and the greatest Paralympic swimmer from Great Britain and NI, having won six golds and three silvers. 

Amy Hunter 

Amy became the youngest cricket player, of any gender, to score a century in a one-day international match. This took place in a game against Zimbabwe in Harare on Amy’s 16th birthday. 

Leah McCourt 

MMA fighter Leah made some impressive wins in 2022 over Janay Harding and Jessica Borga, improving her record to 6-1. 

Dr Caoimhe Rooney 

Dr Caoimhe Rooney is a mathematician at NASA and searches for life throughout the universe by studying distant planets, known as exoplanets. Following an undergraduate degree in mathematics at Trinity College Dublin, with a scholarship year at UCLA, Caoimhe achieved a PhD in Industrially Focused Mathematical Modeling at the University of Oxford. 

You can listen to Caiomhe talk about her journey to NASA and working in the field of mathematics on the NI Connections Podcast. 

Whether at home or abroad, it's evident that the women of Northern Ireland have and continue to positively shape our society!   

Happy International Women’s Day! Lá Idirnáisiúnta na mBan faoi mhaise duit! 

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