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Sinn Fein celebrate International Women’s Day

6 March, 2009

Sinn Féin Vice President and Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald today hosted a lively event to celebrate International Women's Day. Nell McCafferty was the guest speaker.

The theme of the event is 'Bread and Roses', a popular and historic slogan of the left calling for fair wages and dignified conditions.

Bread and Roses originates from a poem by James Oppenheim. In 1912 'Bread and Roses' became the slogan of thousands of textile workers, mostly women and girls who included native and immigrant workers, who won big concessions over wages, conditions and hours for the entire textile industry following a three month strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The women of the strike adopted the now famous slogan, "We want bread and we want roses too!"

Speaking at the event Mary Lou McDonald said, "We are in unprecedented times, but such times offer us unprecedented opportunities. International Women's Day is a great day to celebrate what we have achieved but also to regroup and reflect on where we are going. All around us people are asking big questions about how society is constructed. Is it fair that so few earn so much and so many earn so little? Such questions are as old as time and although much has improved for workers and women since the Lawrence Strike of 1912, some of the basic inequalities those women and girls fought so hard against still exist. However the spirit and inspiration of Oppenheim's poem lives on and I remain steadfast in my belief that we still can have our bread and we can have our roses too." ENDS

Bread and Rosesby James Oppenheim
As we come marching, marching in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing: "Bread and roses! Bread and roses!"
As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women's children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!
As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient cry for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for -- but we fight for roses, too!
As we come marching, marching, we bring the greater days.
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler -- ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life's glories: Bread and roses! Bread and roses!

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