Category Archives: Social Networking

International Women’s Day: The Gender Agenda

centredinternationalwomensday“The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum” is the theme for International Women’s Day on Friday next 8, March.

The story of how this annual celebration came about is  so worth repeating as it is in itself a triumph  of ‘ The Gender Agenda’ and an inspiration to all of us girls who want to celebrate the road  travelled in our name, or raise awareness of  paths that still need to be trod on behalf of our sisters across the world.

From my blog of March 2011, to mark the centenary of this international event:

The first International Women’s Day was celebrated in March 1911. It had its origins in America a few years earlier where women had come together to protest against poor working conditions, resulting in a National Women’s Day being declared by the Socialist Party of America. Subsequently at an International Conference for Working Women in Copenhagen, attended by delegates from 17 countries, and including the first 3 women elected to the Finnish Parliament, a proposal to have a special day each year to focus on women’s issues was met with unanimous approval.

Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Denmark observed the first International Women’s Day in March 1911. More than a million men and women attended rallies in support of women’s right to work, right to vote, right to hold public office. In 1913, Russian women observed International Women’s Day campaigning for peace and in 1914, other European countries joined in.

In 1917, amid great unrest in Russia caused by millions of casualties, terrible food shortages, and with many women removed from farms to work in the factories, International Women’s Day prompted 90,00 workers to strike and the army at Petrograd to revolt. Attempts to end the unrest were not successful and Tsar Nicholas II abdicated some days later. The new provisional government granted universal suffrage with equality for women.

Down the decades, the movement has continued to grow and has become a worldwide event in countries all over the world. In 25 countries it is an official holiday while in China Madagascar and Nepal it is an official holiday for women only. In many countries from Bangladesh to Guinea, from Vietnam to Iceland, from Afghanistan to Zambia, events will take place on March 8th to mark International Women’s Day. The top 5 countries for International Women’s day activity to mark the centenary on March 8th are the UK, Canada, Australia, the United States and Ireland.

International Women’s Day has evolved into a global day of celebration of the achievements of women, socially, politically, and economically. Women’s rights campaigners highlight inequalities and raise money for Charity and   Celebrities the world over associate themselves with the day.

So, whether you want to celebrate, raise awareness for a cause or make a call for action, International Women’s Day is a special day for our Gender Agenda! Go on, DO something!

And while we are at it, what about an International Women’s Day event for Female Bloggers! If interested, please share this post and we may be able to build an online event across the globe to celebrate who we are!

For a list of hundreds of activities and events by country, see http://tinyurl.com/bpve9tg

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Filed under Blogging, International Women's Day, Seniors, Social Change, Social Networking

The Silver Voice – Shortlisted for Blog Awards Ireland 2012!

I was thrilled and honoured to have been nominated  for the Grafton Media Blog Awards Ireland 2012 some time ago. Having read  some of the incredibly excellent work of others in the long list, it was clear that the opposition was formidable and the standard very high… It came as a huge surprise then  to learn that this  blog has been shortlisted in the Best Lifestyle Blog category!

The business of blogging is alive and well in Ireland; hundreds of bloggers are putting their all into their posts. The categories have attracted entries from a broad range of people – from primary school children right up to professional journalists; from craft workers to fashionistas, from cooks to gardeners, from music buffs to photographers, and everything in between!   Well done to the organizers for taking on the task of sifting through the many entries and to Grafton Media for being the main sponsor.  Such efforts encourage and promote the use of the internet by people from all walks of life and from every profession and I am all for that!

I would like to send special wishes to Seamus, author of  Eclectic Sound Bytes deservedly shortlisted in the Best Music Blog category – this blog is for  real music followers and can be seen at www.eclecticsoundbytes.blogspot.com

Every single nominee is a winner!  The very best of good luck to all on the shortlist!

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Filed under Ireland, Living in Ireland, Social Networking

European e-inclusion awards 2012 – inspiration in action

Attended by 1,150 people, followed through internet live-streaming by another 4,000 and, with more than 1,000 social media contributions, I was honoured, thrilled and humbled to be part of the Digital Agenda Assembly in Brussels on 21 and 22 June 2012.

The e-Inclusion Awards were established by the European Commission in 2008  ‘to discover and  celebrate organizations and individuals across Europe who champion new technology and harness the potential of the internet as a means of improving prospects, increasing employability and meeting today’s complex social and economic challenges‘.

Finalists Brochure

As one of only three finalists from across Europe in the category ‘ I am Part of IT  ‘ Personal Stories’ -(Larger Organizations) ‘ I was nominated by Age Action Ireland as a result of winning the Google /Age Action Silver Surfer Award, Social Networking category in 2011 . Age Action is an Irish  national charity which promotes positive ageing and better policies and services for older people. It actively encourages older people ( age 55+ ) to embrace social media. Their ‘Getting Started’ programme, spearheaded by the inspirational Pauline Power, promotes active e-inclusion and has been rolled out to over 6,000 people in the past four years.  Nominated as a finalist from entries from 34 countries,  Pauline accompanied me to the  Digital Media Agenda conference in the European Parliament in Brussels.

Day 1 was devoted to workshops, and our invitation was specifically for the Social Media workshop and feedback sessions,  with day 2 seeing the plenary sessions in the European Parliament chamber itself. Here we  were honoured to be among delegates to greet  Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe, after her very eloquent address to the assembly. Among the academics, industrialists, politicians and social groups participating were  Professor Luciano Floridi from University of Hertfordshire and University of Oxford, Harry van Dorenmalen chairman of IBM Europe, Gyula Vamosi leader of the Roma  (Gypsy) community ; Anna Maria Darmanin , Vice President European Economic and Social Committee.

Whilst the conference focused on the ‘big picture’ with regard to the information society and the  breaking down of barriers to e- inclusion for all citizens of Europe, it is the ways in which ordinary people access and use the internet that demonstrates just how well the high level goals are making a difference to everyday lives.

Anna Maria Darmanin from Malta  presented the e-inclusion awards in the four categories.

There were 3 finalists in each of 4 different categories

I am part of IT – Personal stories, small organizations (< 19 employees).

The three finalists  were

  • Rosanna Nazir and Nila Smart from the Netherlands for their project helping  women looking for work in the Netherlands
  • Joy Matthews from Caerphilly, Wales and the 50+ Positive Action Partnership.
  • Elton Kalica , Italy . Elton was a most worthy and inspirational winner of this category . Arriving in Italy from Albania he found himself in prison for a long time. Through ICT skills he improved his capabilities,  did two university degrees  and now, having been released he has a good job on the ‘outside’; helping prisoners.

I am part of IT – Personal stories ,big organizations(>19 employees) 

The three finalists were

  • Marek Sikora, Chezh Republic. Marek was the first visually impaired ECDL tester in the Czech republic and he set up a not for profit organization Eye-T.cz to enable visiually impaired people take ICT skills tests.
  • Myself, Angela Gallagher, Republic of Ireland with Age Action , who in spite of living in a rural location without the benefit of broadband has embraced social media. My  experience of how technology can change a person’s life will hopefully inspire more older people to take the plunge and learn how to use computers and the internet.
  • Siemon Dekelver from Belgium had a story about ability, not disability. He was a most inspirational and worthy winner of this category, with WAI-NOT which provides mentally challenged young people with secure web-based communication tools so they can learn IT skills and lead happy and independent socially interactive lives.

Be part of IT –  small organizations .

Finalists were

  • From Romania – a project encouraging e training for 1.8 million people in Romania by reducing the skills gap between rural and urban communities
  • Inforum, Hungary – a project showing how kids and grandparents can encourage one another
  • Storybook Dads – UK were worthy winners –  the simple yet ingenious way to use the internet to improve the lives of families of a parent in prison was truly moving. Imprisoned parents record stories for children to be involved in their lives. The initiative has been shown to cut reoffending.

Be part of IT – big organizations.

The three finalists were

  • UK Online Centres  which help communities deal with social and digital exclusion . A network of 3,800 online communities spreads the word on digital inclusion.
  • Barcelona Activa,  Spain that promotes ICT training and skills  to improve employability
  • The Information Society Development Foundation Poland –  local libraries as agents for digital change. Thousands of librarians in thousands of remote communities have been trained to help otherwise excluded communities become e-included.

The judges felt that both the Barcelona Activa and Information Society Development Foundation from Poland were such extraordinary projects that touched the lives of so many, both were declared winners.

Anna Maria Darmanin, Vice President European Economic & Social Committee  (on extreme right) with finalists in the e-inclusion awards.

Each finalist had a wonderful story to tell. Each story was thoroughly inspirational, and each story was a tribute to the perseverance and dedication of ordinary people who through personal efforts and dedication, made their own lives and the lives of others, extraordinary.

I am grateful  to Age Action Ireland for nominating me and especially to   Pauline Power who was with me in Brussels;  to my son Damian, author of his own excellent blog http://irishamericancivilwar.com/ for encouraging me to get started and for his  support in setting up this blog, and to the over 20,000 visitors to this site. Thank you all!

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Filed under Ageism, Older workers, Retirement Age, Seniors, Social Justice, Social Networking, Social Policy

Google Silver Surfer Awards with Age Action 2011

Seven  Silver Surfer Awards for 2011 were handed out in the ceremony at Google Headquarters in Dublin recently. Three finalists were shortlisted in seven categories. The shortlisted entrants were chosen for the dedication and passion they showed in their quest to get online, regardless of their age.  Hearty congratulations to all the amazing people who were nominated and a ‘well done’ to the award winners!

The recipient of the Golden IT Award was 90-year-old Larry Wilmott.Larry lives in a nursing home and has over the past 3 years learned all about computers. He is now active on Facebook, Twitter and Skype.  Larry’s achievements were recognized by Sarah Jenkinson who works at Larry’s nursing home and who nominated him for the award. 

Dorothy Harrington, a 76-year-old grandmother-of-four from Sandymount, Dublin,was the overall winner of the Google Silver Surfer Award with Age Action. Dorothy, proudly nominated by her husband Paddy, sold their home online, saving a small fortune in professional fees. She then went on to find a new home online, where they now live.  She also makes Christmas cards and conducts  much of their business online and has enormous fun doing so.

The Family Tutor Award is open to anyone UNDER the age of 50 and the winner was the lovely 12 year-old  Aine Fleming  from Kildare, who patiently helped her grandmother get to grips with her laptop, and who says that accessing the internet has changed her life for the better. Aine’s Aunt, Kathleen King, nominated Aine  for the award.

Penny Pennefeather,62, from Wicklow computerized the scoring system for her Bridge Club of over 400 people and enthusiastically undertook to help other members come to grips with the new system. Nominated by her daughter, Jane Court, Penny was the worthy winner of the Hobbies on the Net Award.

The Winner of the Most Dedicated IT Learner Award was 53-year-old  Bernie Wansboro, from Swords, Co Dublin who taught herself basic computing skills using computer manuals. She then bought a laptop that has opened up a whole new world for her.  Bernie nominated herself for this category, and anyone who has ever tried to read a computer manual can only be in awe of her wonderful achievement!

James Richardson from Dublin was Winner of the IT Volunteer of the Year Award. This award which was open to people of all ages went to 63-year-old James who has helped over 1,500 older  people learn basic computer and word processing skills over the past 7 years. James was nominated by colleagues who  are impressed with his patience and empathy at the community based non-profit organization in Coolock. 

The winner of  the Social Networker Award was myself, 63-year-old Angela Gallagher,from Co. Limerick.  With the initial help and extraordinary patience of my son Damian, who lives a considerable distance away,my blog and Facebook page got up and running.  ‘ A Silver Voice from Ireland’  looks at issues facing older people as well as  our social history and our diaspora and has opened up a whole new world to me. 

Speaking at the awards ceremony the  Minister for Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources,  Mr Pat Rabbitte said: “The Internet is no longer the exclusive domain of the young or indeed the technically oriented.  A happy convergence of peer pressure, reducing costs, more user-friendly devices and smarter software design is encouraging us all to go on-line. Today’s winners are champions in the application of peer pressure. They have not let their age hold them back from being part of Ireland’s digital society and are setting a wonderful example for people of all ages.”  
Sinéad Gibney, Social Action Manager, Google Ireland said: “This year we have seen a 50% increase in nominations for the Google Silver Surfer Awards with Age Action which shows how many people over-50 are determined not to be left behind by new technology. At Google we are committed to helping people of all ages get online and to help them get the most from the Internet. These awards provide us with a fantastic platform to celebrate older people who have embraced modern technology and are reaping the benefits it has to offer. Everyone shortlisted today should be very proud of their achievements.” 

Age Action Chief Executive Robin Webster said: “Computer skills are becoming increasingly important for everyone, enabling a person to keep abreast of what is happening in society and providing them with the means of having their voice heard.  Some older people are still unsure as to whether or not they will be able to learn how to use a computer. Today’s winners should be an example to them of how people of all ages can attain these IT skills and how these skills can greatly enrich the quality of their lives. I would urge all older people who do not know how to use a computer not to be afraid and explore it. Learning how to use a computer and how to navigate the Internet can be a life-changing experience.”

Thanks to Google for a wonderful event, and to Age Action, a very special charity deserving of our support.  Ciara Sherlock Events Manager at Age Action Ireland was extraordinarily friendly and helpful. Minister Pat Rabbitte and three of the candidates in the upcoming Presidential election in Ireland   – Michael D Higgins, Martin McGuinness and Sean Gallagher, together with the MC – TV Personality  Derek Davis,made it a very special and memorable event for all the participants.  Thank you all!

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Filed under Celebrations in Ireland, Living in Ireland, Social Networking, Uncategorized

The Silver Voice Blog wins Social Networking Award

Séan Gallagher, Presidential Candidate, presents the Social Networking Award.

Age Action Ireland is a charity which promotes positive ageing and better policies and services for older people. In association with Google they run the Silver Surfer Awards, which celebrates older people who have embraced information technology for pleasure or as a way of enhancing their lives. Nominations were sought for 5 categories – Most Dedicated IT Learner; Hobbies on the Net; IT Volunteer of the Year, Family Tutor and  Social Networking Award. In addition the hunt was on for a person over 90 for the Golden IT Award and an older person who embraces internet technology with a sense of fun for the title ‘Google Silver Surfer of the year 2011 with Age Action’. The awards ceremony was held at Google HQ in Dublin on 27  September. Noted Irish TV Personality Derek Davis was Master of Ceremonies, while Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte was also in attendance. Three of Ireland’s Presidential Candidates,  Michael D. Higgins, Martin McGuinness and Sean Gallagher, were on hand to present the awards.

I was both surprised and shocked to discover that this blog led to my being

Damian Shiels, who nominated me for the award, and Michael D Higgins,Presidential Candidate.

shortlisted in the Social Networking category, and even more astonished when it was revealed that The Silver Voice had won! There were some truly special nominees and winners present on the day, and I was humbled to be among them. I would like to thank Age Action Ireland and Google for a wonderful day out, and for organising a marvellous event.  Damian Shiels was the person who nominated me in the first place and it was good that he was also present to share the occasion. Many thanks as well to those of you who read my (sometimes diverse!) ramblings, and hopefully there will be many more posts to come in the future!

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Filed under Blogging, Older Generation, Social Networking

Bealtaine: Pushing the boat out

Surely May is the most fabulous of all months in the Irish countryside! The snow-white Blackthorn flowers give way to the blossom laden arching branches of the Hawthorn, or May blossom. Often alongside is to be found the vibrant yellow of whins, or gorse, and together they make the most beautiful spectacle in the Irish countryside as they light up miles and miles of hedgerows. The Irish word for May is ‘Bealtaine’ (pronounced Baal-tin-a) which means ‘Bright Fire’. How appropriate then that May was chosen as the month to celebrate the creativity of older age, with the annual month-long Bealtaine Festival taking place across all of Ireland.

Now in its 16th year, the Bealtaine Festival  happens in Art centres, museums, libraries, theatres, Active Retirement Groups, community clubs, care centres, even beaches! Anyplace where the talents of older people, whether professionals or first timers, can be showcased.The ethos is one of celebration, empowerment, fun and confidence-building by the participants, whether as performers, organizers or audiences. In 2010, over 100,000 people participated in the event. This cultural innovation is unrivalled anywhere else in the world, but other countries are establishing similar festivals modelled on Ireland’s success, in Germany, Scotland and Wales, for example.

Bealtaine is spearheaded by the Age & Opportunity organization and part funded by the Arts Council. Age & Opportunity is a non-profit organization working to promote participation by older people in various aspects of society. The Bealtaine Festival, one of its major initiatives,  concentrates on greater participation by older people in the arts.  With a theme for 2011 of  ‘Push the boat out, whatever the sea’ (a line from the poem ‘At Eighty’, by Edwin Morgan) there are hundreds of events taking place all over Ireland. A Festival Programme is available here .

The Bealtaine Festival was independently evaluated by the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at University College Galway. Their study revealed that participation or attendance at events had positive effects on well-being and morale as well as self-esteem and self-confidence. Social connections were improved as new relationships were formed. Over 86% of participants said it improved their quality of life. This research underpins the value to society of a programme for involvement of older people  in the arts, especially as the age profile of our population increases.  It follows that it also underpins the wonderful work being undertaken by Age & Opportunity, work that is worthy of  the support of all of us.

References

Age & Opportunity

Bealtaine Festival

Poem  At Eighty

Evaluation of Bealtaine Festival Report 

Irish Centre for Social Gerontology 

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Filed under Ageism, Ireland, Irish Traditions, Living in Ireland, Older Generation, Retirement Age, Seniors, Social Networking

Speaking Up and Speaking Out!

This is the first in a series of posts about organizations and groups in Ireland actively involved in helping to change the discourse around being older in Ireland. 

GET VOCAL AND BE HEARD

The GET VOCAL initiative is a programme spearheaded by Age & Opportunity and funded by Atlantic Philanthropies. The aim is to encourage older people to speak for themselves in promoting their own concerns and causes. Who knows best about being older than older people themselves?!

Age & Opportunity do this by working with national and local organizations dedicated to social change in relation to the older generation. Networks and groups plan projects that are in turn supported by Age & Opportunity. Sometimes they can even give a small grant to help with the projects.

The stated main goal is to promote networks of older people who can have a say in issues of concern to them, such as transport, health  services, rights for older people, and living in isolation. They are involved in Kerry, Cavan, Leitrim, Wexford, Tolka, Finglas, Wicklow and Meath. They also have a project with members of the Simon community, highlighting the needs of older homeless people around declining health, dying and death. Older members of  The Gay & Lesbian Community also have particular needs and issues with their lives as they age and there is an initiative involving them.

It is important that society as a whole understands the issues that are of concern to older people and hopefully, dear readers, you will one day be older too!

You can read about the Get Vocal Projects here.

Previous post on The Atlantic Philanthropies here.

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Filed under Ageism, Healthy Living, Ireland, Living in Ireland, Loneliness, Older Generation, Seniors, Social Change, Social Justice, Social Networking, Social Policy