Reading “A Conversation with Josepha Madigan” in the last issue is a reminder of the passion, energy and commitment given from every corner of the country towards delivering safe, free and legal reproductive healthcare to the women and girls in Ireland. Minister Madigan’s description of combining compassion, instinct, time and tenacity rings as true for a civil society campaigner like myself as for a member of government.
The success of the repeal referendum, which enables the provision of abortion services to the women of Ireland through the country’s national medical services, was driven over decades by committed activists tireless in their campaigning.
Political will became crucial in the latter days of this campaigning, and leaders such as Josepha Madigan, Ivana Bacik, Katherine Zappone and Simon Harris showed that it is possible to maintain dignity and professionalism no matter the stakes, ensuring humanity and empathy were kept at the heart of the movement.
Minister Madigan’s role as Minister for Culture and the part she played towards the referendum result exemplify the role of the arts in social reform. Moments like the public outcry at the removal of the repeal mural showed that the arts can never be truly de-politicized, and how crucial it is that political leaders continue to support the central role that the arts play in both national identity and the exploration of society.
Internationally, campaigners such as myself continue to see challenges to reproductive healthcare—not only in places with significant legal battles, but in so many countries across Europe and beyond. The repeal movement shows that inclusive, feminist campaigns based on compassion, care and collective good can bring a society together in support of true revolutionary change.
Policy & Campaigns Officer, European Women’s Lobby