Donegal Travellers Project health worker, Margaret Joyce has called on women’s organisations to include Traveller women at all levels.

Speaking at the National Women’s Council Rural Women’s conference ‘Claiming our Space’ in Monaghan today, Margaret highlighted the importance of Travellers’ voices being present when decisions were being made which concerned them.

“All women’s organisations should include Traveller women from the very beginning. We need to be on the boards. We need to be sitting at the tables where decisions are being made for travellers. We need to be hearing the Traveller voices. We know what Travellers’ needs are because we are living it every day.  

“Anyone sitting here from any organisation, look at your boards, look at your committees, look at your policies, look at your practices.  Ask yourselves are Travellers included?  If we are not included why are we not included?” she asked.

Margaret, a Community Development Health Worker with the DTP also highlighted some of the additional barriers faced by Traveller and Roma women in rural Ireland when it comes to accessing health and accommodation services, as well as the ongoing challenge of discrimination and the additional language barriers faced by the Roma community.

And she spoke of the importance of the extended family in the Traveller community.

“Without the support of our mothers and grandmothers, us younger women would be absolutely lost and the same education opportunities would not have been there for us.”

The conference was also addressed by Minister for Social Protection and Rural and Community Affairs, Heather Humphreys.