Women Outside
Sound work: 23 mins duration, looped
Date: 2016

A sound work inspired and re-imagined from the original speeches, quotes and words of
six women across time, race, place and generation, all linked by their belief in justice and
equality for women – mediated through the voice of Hanna Sheehy Skeffington

Hanna Sheehy Skeffington 1877-1946 running time 07.31 mins

My dear, dear Frank, how I still miss you, here in this place I feel your presence all around me, contained in these blood-red bricks. Memories flood back putting such sadness upon me.

But I am angry too and bitter when I think how much we missed out on, how much was stolen from us... I was still a young woman, only 38 when I lost you... Owen, our little boy was 7! I don't know did I ever fully recover.

I attended the trial every day, read the transcripts and spoke to numerous witnesses, eventually I was able to piece together a pretty factual account of what had taken place on that fateful week. But all that keeps going around and around in my mind is how you must have felt when you realised in those last, few, dreadful moments what was about to happen. I know you were thinking of me and I draw some strength from this.

The yard was about 12 feet long and 6 feet wide... As the three prisoners walked away from the firing squad, and when they had reached the end of the yard, Captain Bowen-Colthurst gave the order to fire and all three dropped in their tracks, dead.

On Sunday, May 7th, bricklayers were brought to the barracks, they removed the bloodstained bricks in the wall and replaced them with new bricks. The next day, without my knowledge, Frank's body was exhumed and reburied in Glasnavin Cemetery. Originally it had been put in a sack and buried in the barrack's yard.

You were a proud Feminist Frank - certainly the first man I ever met to stand up and proclaim your allegiance! And this was in the early 1900s!! At every opportunity you supported equal rights for women and insisted on always wearing your 'votes for women' badge on your jacket (soft laugh).

Me and Frank believed that there were other issues alongside fighting for votes for women and freedom from British rule, in particular, the poverty endured by the Irish majority. We saw I tell you, the resistance was ferocious in all the power houses where men held sway, they did not want to share any legal power with us – oh yes they were happy to let us rule the ‘home' as long as we stayed there and didn't want to go into the parliaments, the hospital surgeries, the banks, the universities or big business... anywhere where power is mediated.

I went to prison several times for my beliefs and I was proud to – I learnt quickly how absolutely essential it is to take things to their nth degree to show how serious you are. I always believed in one maxim that: ‘there could be not Irish Freedom without the equality of women.

Manal al-Sharif 1979 - running time 03.36 mins

There's no actual law against women driving in Saudi Arabia. But it's forbidden. We are the last country in the world where women don't drive. There was this official study that was presented to the Shura Council -- it's the consultative council appointed by the king in Saudi Arabia and it was done by a local, university professor. He claims it's done based on a UNESCO study. And the study states, the percentage of rape, adultery, illegitimate children, even drug abuse, prostitution in countries where women drive is higher than countries where women don't drive (Laughing). Some of us women started a hashtag on Twitter mocking the study, and it made headlines around the world. [BBC News: 'End of virginity' if women drive, Saudi cleric warns] (Laughing).

This system is based on ultra-conservative traditions and customs that deal with women as if they are inferior and they need a guardian to protect them,so they need to take permission from this guardian, whether verbal or written, all their lives. We are minors until the day we die. And it becomes worse when it's enshrined in religious fatwas based on wrong interpretation of the sharia law, or the religious laws. What's worst, when they become codified as laws in the system, and when women themselves believe in their inferiority, and they even fight those who try to question these rules.

In 2011, I decided to encourage women to drive by doing so — and asked a female friend to film me and posted it on YouTube. The clip went viral and though I was arrested the outcry and worldwide support was so great the authorities had to let me go - with a warning. Now the law has changed, it says it's not recommended for women to drive and that they will issue women drivers with traffic violations, whereas before it used to be haram, forbidden.

So for me, it's not about only these small steps. It's about women themselves. A friend once asked me, she said, "So when do you think this women driving will happen?" I told her, "Only if women stop asking 'When?' and take action to make it now." So it's not only about the system, it's also about us women to drive our own life

I'm a proud Saudi woman, and I do love my country and because I love my country, I'm doing this...

I believe a society will not be free if the women of that society are not free,
because the child cannot be free if his mother is not free,
the husband cannot be free if his wife is not free,
the parents are not free if their daughters are not free,
the society is nothing if the women are nothing,
freedom starts from within...

Soujourner Truth c.1797-1883 running time 02.11 mins

I was born into slavery in Rifton, New York, but I escaped in1826 and took my infant daughter with me to freedom and I became a traveling preacher.

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted
over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into
carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman?
Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns,
and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as
much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a
woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and
when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a
woman?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as
men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him. If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them. Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.

Shabana Basij-Rasikh 1990 - running time 02.12 mins

When I was 11, I remember waking up one morning to the sound of joy in my house. My father was listening to BBC News on his small, grey radio. There was a big smile on his face which was unusual then, because the news mostly depressed him. "The Taliban are gone!" my father shouted. I didn't know what it meant, but I could see that my father was very, very happy. "You can go to a real school now," he said. A morning that I will never forget. A real school.

In 1996 the Taliban took over Afghanistan, I was six years old. They made it illegal for girls to go to school. So for the next five years, I dressed as a boy to escort my older sister, who was no longer allowed to be outside alone, to a secret school. It was the only way we both could be educated. Each day, we took a different route so that no one would suspect where we were going. We would cover our books in grocery bags so it would seem we were just out shopping. The school was in a house, more than 100 of us packed in one small living room. It was cosy in winter but extremely hot in summer.

We all knew we were risking our lives -- the teacher, the students and our parents. From time to time, the school would suddenly be cancelled for a week because Taliban were suspicious. We always wondered what they knew about us. Were we being followed? Do they know where we live? We were scared, but still, school was where we wanted to be.

Gloria Steinem 1934 - running time 03.07 mins

I realised as a journalist that there really was nothing for women to read that was controlled by women, and this caused me along with a number of other women to start Ms.Magazine, our agenda was to create an intelligent, provocative magazine aimed at women and written and researched by women. I remember the enormous controversy in1976 with our cover story on battered women. We were the first national magazine to address the issue of domestic violence and the thing that upset people so much was that the cover photo featured a woman with a bruised face.

I've always maintained that “each others' lives are our best textbooks. An individual woman who stands up for truth is one of the most powerful role models - “Deeds not words” wasn't that what the suffragettes believed! After all, it's not that women have not been always making noise, making dreams happen, women have always been an equal part of the past. We just haven't been a part of history.

Woman's role is defined very early in and through the family unit. The family is the basic cell of the government: it is where we are trained to believe that we are human beings or that we are chattel, it is where we are trained to see the sex and race divisions and become callous to injustice even if it is done to ourselves, to accept as biological a full system of authoritarian government.

Women are not going to be equal outside the home until men are equal in it. Don't think about making women fit the world — think about making the world fit women. How about a new way of thinking and doing things... we are talking about a society in which there will be no roles other than those chosen or those earned. We are really talking about humanism.

I never wanted to be a politician or elected person myself, so I loved to work for other
women who did—and hope that more girls will do that. The problem is the feeling that we're divided from politics, that our vote doesn't count or what we do doesn't count. In fact, everything we do counts. I believe that when unique voices are united in a common cause, they make history.

Remember, women may be the one group that grows more radical with age (laughing).

Rosa Parks 1913-2005 running time 01.47 mins

All I was doing was trying to get home from work. It was not pre-arranged. It just happened that the driver made a demand and I just didn't feel like obeying his demand. I was quite tired after spending a full day working.

I was born 50 years after slavery, in 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. I was allowed to read. My mother, who was a teacher, taught me when I was a very young child. The first school I attended was a small building that went from first to sixth grade. There was one teacher for all of the students. There could be anywhere from 50 to 60 students of all different ages.

As far back as I can remember, I knew there was something wrong with our way of life when people could be mistreated because of the colour of their skin. Whites would accuse you of causing trouble when all you were doing was acting like a normal human being instead of cringing.

Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others.I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.

Hanna's Last Will and Testamony 1909 running time 01.32 mins

“No funeral service whatsoever. No mourning after. I should wish to be laid out in my nightdress, not a habit, without any religious trappings: I should like flowers, no staying up and only real friends and a few relatives to see me if they so desire, no strangers and the door locked meanwhile. I should like a vein opened as I fear being buried alive. I don't care where I'm buried as it depends on where I die and must fit convenience. I shall leave my husband Frank to decide, only should I die early in life I should prefer not to be put in his family grave as he wishes cremation and in that case, if in Dublin, my grandfather's grave I'd prefer.

I should like a few friends to have small souvenirs of (books etc) as Frank directs.
I should like women at my funeral, and the announcement to be the briefest without 'wife of', 'daughter of', 'mother of' I hope no one will feel vain regrets as whenever I die, I'll not be unhappy. This is because I felt remorse myself for other people and in my case none is needed. We can't always be alone