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Women in Volunteering By Ann O’Brien

Rather than get into the many anomalies of this “Oh so male dominated society ,“ I have decided to present to you a facet of our world in which we can rejoice as we look at Women in Volunteering. Perhaps we could assume that in Ireland the Meitheals or self help co-op movements of the 17th and 18th centuries marked the birth of the Voluntary Movement as we know it to day. In simple terms it is the colonising of ones free time in a productive manner, prioritising those in need.

conference (Our Lady of Perpetual Help) which serves a city area and rural surrounds in Co. Limerick. It is a privileged to be given this opportunity and to be trusted and welcomed as we go about our work. My wish is that the Fir will some day equal the Mna in each Conference and continue for many years the work of SVP.

Voluntary Lights

In 1997 the United Nations proclaimed 2001 as The Year of the Volunteer and in answer Ireland set up The National Committee of Volunteers. They duly produced a booklet entitled ‘Tipping the Balance’.

An inviting light spills from the Community Centre as I pass: a literacy class is spelling out it’s tasks or an Active Retirement concert is in full swing.

The following chart demonstrates the gender imbalance; • Female 40% • Male 28%

An anglepoise lamp marks the spot where a counsellor waits at the end of the line each telephone ring a distress-signal.

This report also states that 33% of our population are engaged in the voluntary sector.

Overseen by a peach ripe sun, a youth group grooms and combs a beach that was stranded under cans and plastic.

The many organisations that come under this banner include Schools, Hospitals, Sports and a numerous amount of organisations who work in the fight against Poverty. The reasons why we volunteer are perhaps a belief in a cause or maybe for self satisfaction or simply to meet people. My own experience began at school in Cork where we were encouraged to join The Legion of Mary. Visiting the less fortunate than ourselves and reporting on our work weekly left me with a sense of doing for others at an early age and this mantra was to crop up in later life when I found time on my hands. Fifteen years of involvement in the Hospice movement (one half day per week) where I met some wonderful people and learned many lessons-not least that life is so very fragile. During this period I monitored the Gender Balance among my fellow workers and found very very few fellows! In fact it was 99% female.

Seeking fair play for needy children, e-mail appeals -emergency flares-are launched from a computer screen. A Tidy Towns committee comes clean About its bright hopes for this years competition. As long as Lights like these stay beaming the world will seem less dark. - by Denis O’Driscoll

In a report by Freda O’Donoghue- ‘A Feminist Space2001’ the author states some reasons for the unbalance of gender in volunteering; 1. Women are less likely to seek material gain. 2. We possess more skills for dealing with people. 3. Our desire to be neighbourly. Now in the winter of my life I am so fulfilled with the companionship and regularity of helping the great organisation of Saint Vincent de Paul. I am fortunate enough to be involved in a busy

The Ozanam Bulletin | 27

Spring 2018 SVP  
Spring 2018 SVP