IWD 2021: Emer O’ Neill

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge. In our last article we looked at some inspirational women in herstory, who fought and overcame many challenges to achieve their goals. In doing so, not only did they make the world a better place, but they encouraged and supported the women who followed. They have inspired women to recognise their own strength and courage as a woman and to strive for their own dreams.

In the next few articles, we look at some exceptional women, who today are challenging many obstacles in their career.

Emer O’ Neill

Emer is an RTE múinteor, bringing exercise to our nation’s children through the School Hubs. Emer played basketball for Ireland and received a scholarship to American, where she studied Physical Education. In addition to this, Emer is a motivational Irish voice, challenging racism, particularly in Ireland and raising awareness about the importance of celebrating diversity. 

What women support and inspire you?

I’ve only got one woman that really inspires me and has made me who I am today and that’s my Mum. She’s such a strong woman, she’s been through so much; a single parent of two kids, going from being penniless to owning her own house and having a great career as a nurse. I look up to her so much. The strength and determination that I have comes from her. I love me Mammy!

How can we create workplaces that encourage gender and thought diversification?

I think it’s very important to have things in place where you have to have a certain number of female staff, in order to ensure that women are getting the same benefits and opportunities as men. I think education is key. We need to see more females in lines of STEM, like science, technology, engineering and mathematics. I think there isn’t a big enough push for girls and women in that area from school in secondary level, to push them into third level and into jobs in those fields. 

To ensure there is a good gender balance programmes need to be created that are specifically for girls in schools that will bring them to companies to give them an idea of what it would be like to work in those fields. This will give them the idea that they could do this. For girls to see women in those positions is huge – if you can see it you can be it. 

What is your International Women’s Day message that you’d like to share?

The message I would like to share is that, all of us women out there are absolutely amazing! We’re very strong, we’re usually the glue that holds everything together and we do a lot of the work that goes unnoticed. 

There’s been so much change over the years. When you think back to a time that women, once married, couldn’t work. That you were there to make a home, to ensure that you husband was happy and satisfied and that the kids were taken care of. We’re in a nice position in the 21st century, where women can go out and have professions, but we still end up juggling everything, as far as home and work. 

I think we are amazing and I want you to give yourselves a big hug and a big tap on the back. We’ve got a way to go but we’re going to get there. As women, I honestly think we rule the world. There are so many inspirational women out there, it’s amazing. So ladies, keep doing what you’re doing. Have a great Mother’s Day and International Women’s Day.