Day one of the SpunOut Women’s Academy

Kelsey sums up day one of the SpunOut Academy 2014.

Written by Kelsey Cassetta


“Anyone in this room can have a good idea…but who is going to do it?” This is the question posed by Una Mullally as she sits in front of the room. The room Mullally is addressing is a group of young women who chose to be a part of the SpunOut academy because they want change; change for how women are represented and how we see ourselves. Basically, it’s a room to be reckoned with.

Mullally’s advice is to have a plan; dreaming is one thing but doing is another. There are stepping stones that are necessary to get where we want to go, and we should not turn up our nose to them. This requires persistence and assertiveness. Sharing a piece of advice she learned from a friend: she challenged the group: “If you want to change something you might just have to do it yourself. You should be angry: about the world we live in and want to change it."

As Mullally said: it’s amazing and terrifying to be a woman. It’s amazing because we are living through a new wave of feminism. What’s terrifying about it? The ‘boys will be boys’ mentality. We live in a patriarchal society, and yes there has been change, there has been momentum, but thousands of years of being the inferior sex, it isn’t been enough. Mullally urged:‘don’t put up with any sexism ever – challenge it call it out’.

If we want change, we need to address it, and we need to recognize that we are all guilty of some form of it at some time, men and women. This is better for change. Mullally related that in her life she often felt like an outsider, for various reasons, but she learned as an outsider: be yourself, "the point of you is being you" nobody has your perspective, or your ideas, nobody can do what you can do and that is really exciting. She left everyone in the room feeling inspired.

Check out the interview with Una Mullally below by SpunOut volunteer Kelly

The day continued with an instructional and moving speech on mental health awareness form Donal Scanlan. Scanlan gave advice on managing stress and taking care of yourself. An eye opening piece of advice was: ‘if it’s to be, it’s up to me.’ Scanlan talked about how in some situations we can take charge of our mental health by changing the way we think. Mental health awareness is a pressing issue that the group later brought up to the political panel: the need for more awareness, more facilities, more funding. As Scanlan said in relation to mental health, we have to think: ‘not only yes we can… but yes we have to – for change’ 

Addressing how we think is an important dynamic of this academy, and it is addressed again in Aisling Twomey’s motivating presentation. Twomey opened with a question: you are on a train…who would you rather sit next to? soldier, priest, criminal, doctor, artist, or married couple. The group shared their ideas, then Twomey went on to show a picture and an explanation of each one of those people. None of which were what anyone expected when they chose who they would sit next to. The lesson was this: perceptions are based not on just what we’re told, but what we think ourselves.

Twomey explained: "everytime we communicate something, there is going to be gaps" . People never view something the same way. Her advice is to always ask questions, to educate yourself.

Twomey’s advice for becoming active and getting involved in a campaign are as follows:

  1. Listen
  2. Be able to say that you don’t know- "i don’t know, but i’ll find out for you".
  3. Don’t take it personally.
  4. Don’t make it personal. Brush it off, internet trolls in particular, being that person nullifies you in your debate.
  5. Be brave – when you know something is wrong you should feel free to speak up about it.
  6. it’s important when you’re intimidated or feel like someone is intimidating you to consistently be brave.

To sum up the day I'll finish with a statement from one of the participants themselves. "It takes people who care, and who are passionate about it to make a difference and to change things." 

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