Vicky Phelan: 'When women help other women, we are at our best, and better than any men'

Vicky Phelan: 'When women help other women, we are at our best, and better than any men'
Keynote speaker Vicky Phelan, the inspirational women’s health campaigner opened #FemFest, Ireland’s biggest conference for young women, in Liberty Hall today. Picture: Maxwells Dublin

The biggest feminist conference for young women in Ireland is taking place today at Dublin's Liberty Hall.

Vicky Phelan, who was speaking at the conference in Dublin's Liberty Hall today said that young women need to know that leadership can come in any form.

The CervicalCheck campaigner says the traditional role of leadership is changing, and that it is now much more than just someone in a management role.

She says she hopes her experiences will help inspire young women to stand up and take the initiative if they feel something is not right.

"I think if you get them early and encourage them at an early, young age," said Ms Phelan.

"I have a 13-year-old daughter myself and she's very like me, she asks a lot of questions but I think that's the way to start.

"Start as you mean to go on, get them to start thinking that if something isn't right, go with your gut.

That's what I have done all my life - gone with my gut instinct - and if things aren't right I question it.

"I suppose it's just to instil that in them, that you know your own body."

Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan and Eileen Flynn from the National Traveller Women's Forum are just some of the other speakers at today's conference.

Director of the National Women's Council of Ireland, Orla O'Connor, says it is a way for young women to come together and define their own vision for change.

"It is the space where young women will come together, they will talk about their experiences of being a young woman in Ireland today and also their aspirations for the future," said Ms O'Connor.

"So it's really important for us in the National Women's Council to hear the issues that are of concern to young women so that we can act on them and bring them into the work of the National Women's Council."

Ms O'Connor said that young women are being represented in all their diversity at the event.

"There will be young women Travellers who will be speaking to us, Eileen Flynn will be speaking, disability rights campaigner Suzy Byrne will be speaking to us, Vicky Phelan was the guest speaker and young women particularly wanted to hear from Vicky as someone who is such an inspirational leader," said Ms O'Connor.

"There will be Ellie Kisyombe who is a woman who is standing for local elections and also has experience of being in Direct Provision."

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