Opinion: Social activism is needed now more than ever before

social activism

With everything happening across the globe, action needs to be taken and those in positions of authority need to be held accountable, social activism is needed now more than ever.

From Black Lives Matter protests in the US to our own Repeal the Seal campaign here in Ireland, there is a need to stand up.

As we go through one of the biggest health crises the world has ever seen and a fear of those in power is lurking, now is the time we need to take action.

When I began writing this, the possibility of Biden in office was a mere dream, something this disastrous year just couldn’t allow.

And while things are beginning to look up with the Biden-Harris administration and the possibility of a Covid vaccine sooner than expected, there is still a lot more fixing needed to be done.

Repeal the Seal

Starting here at home, the Repeal the Seal movement began at the end of October, taking action over the controversial mother and baby homes records being hidden for another 30 years.

Social activism

The movement stems from the government making the decision to keep the archives regarding the mother and baby homes locked away, stating that survivors will have the opportunity to access the findings from the Commission of Investigation, but the legislation is still unclear.

With protests across the country and socially distanced picketing in Phoenix Park, hundreds of thousands signed a petition for these records to be released to the public.

“The announcement was made, but it was made on the back of the power of petitions,” Ciara Gannon, who organised a Cork protest told Cork Echo.

“That wouldn’t have been made if it wasn’t for public outcry and it’s really important to keep the momentum going and just change the protest from ‘repeal the seal’, to ‘make sure that the seal is repealed,’ just to keep the pressure on government to keep that decision.”

While the legislation signed in the Dail to keep these sealed has not been changed, the fading just when we need our voices to still be heard. 

The mother and baby homes has been one of Ireland’s biggest tragedies, families have been torn apart, people don’t even have access to their own medical history, let alone who their mother may have been.

Black Lives Matter

While it may have died down on your social media accounts, the Black Lives Matter protests are still going strong across the United States.

Social activism

After the police murders of Brieonna Taylor and George Floyd, there was uproar and a call to defund the police after these brutal killings.

Innocent black people are being killed at the hands of police forces, the same people out on the streets with a duty to protect.

Racism institutionalised within these organisations, and within many citizens across the US. 

Racism didn’t stop in the 60s once segregation was lifted, just like it hasn’t stopped after we all posted a black square on Instagram. Much more work needs to be done.

With a democratic President on his way to office, things are looking more hopeful. But the issue won’t be solved because of this, voices need to be louder than ever to be heard.

“Without the resounding support of Black people, we would be saddled with a very different electoral outcome. In short, Black people won this election,” BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors wrote in an open letter to the new administration.

“Alongside Black-led organizations around the nation, Black Lives Matter invested heavily in this election. “Vote and Organize” became our motto, and our electoral justice efforts reached more than 60million voters,” the letter added. 

“We want something for our vote.”

Poland’s abortion ban

Moving to another topic a little closer to home, what is happening in Poland needs our attention more than ever.

If you haven’t heard, the highest court in Poland has banned abortions under any circumstances other than rape or incest. 

Already having the strictest regulations in Europe, the court has now banned abortions in cases of foetal defects, deeming them as unconstitutional.

The Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights said on Twitter that this was a “sad day for women’s rights”.

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“Removing the basis for almost all legal abortions in Poland amounts to a ban and violates human rights,” Dunja Mijatovic added in her tweet.

With basic human rights being further stripped from the women of Poland, and humanity seeming to be regressing back to the early 1800s, there must be something we can do.

Personal social activism

With social activism needed more than ever before, how can we help in these times when public protesting may not be a safe option for everyone?

Starting here at home with the issue of Repeal the Seal, there is a petition online that can be signed urging the Irish government to rethink the passing of this legislation.

It may seem like it’s not doing much, all you’re simply doing is typing your name, right? By easily just giving your email address, you can be a part of something much bigger and make the difference that’s needed.

And the same goes for the Black Lives Matter movement. As it’s across the pond and it’s not easy for us to head over and join the march, there is an abundance of petitions you can sign online, all addressing various issues within the movement.

Whether it’s helping the family of George Floyd, defunding the police or getting justice for Trayvon Martin, there are countless ways to help with a simple click of a mouse.

Petitions have closed regarding the Poland abortion ban, but there are other international issue you can sign and donate for.

Nigeria’s police brutality

The police brutality of protesters in Nigeria demands our attention, and won’t go away unless there is a demand for change.

These protesters have been exploited, killed, raped and tortured by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS.

Victims and their families have risked their lives to speak out about this, and it is our duty to let their voices be heard.

Like each issue mentioned here, we can simply put our name to a petition and it can go so much further than you may think, and a difference can be made.

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About the author

Ellen Fitzpatrick

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