The impact of alcohol on women’s health is to be unveiled at an International Women’s Day event in Letterkenny this Friday.

Donegal Women’s Centre, Alcohol Forum Ireland and the Atlantic Technological University are collaborating to bring the alcohol industry’s secrets to light, and champion women’s right to know how drinking affects their wellbeing.

Speaking ahead of the event, Dr Grainne Ketelaar from the ATU hopes that women across Donegal who are interested in hearing more will come along: ‘At a time when there is so much misinformation in relation to a range of health and wellbeing issues; this event has been designed to involve women in a conversation about their own health and the risks that the tactics of the alcohol industry pose to our health and well being – it’s really important that women speak wise words to one another – to keep it real, and cut through the lies corporate industries peddle to try to get us to buy and consume their products’.

In 2020, the Donegal Women’s Centre was one of the first of over forty organisations to sign up to the i-Mark, an initiative support by Alcohol Forum Ireland which asks organisations to commit to building communities that are free from the health damaging tactics of the global alcohol industry.  This event which will be hosted in the Women’s Centre on Port Road aims to be fun and relaxed way for people to learn more, hear more and get involved in the conversation.

Since March 1st, the organising group have been sharing daily ‘dirty little secrets’ of the alcohol industry on social media.

The first of these exposed the scientific link between alcohol and seven different forms of cancer, highlighting the fact alcohol is a group 1 carcinogen, a fact that the alcohol industry is keen to deny or cause doubt around.    

The second ‘dirty little secret’ focused on the way in which the alcohol industry is putting the health of pregnant women at risk. Research shows that alcohol industry-funded organizations cast doubt on health advice that it is safer for women to abstain from alcohol when pregnant. 

A daily secret will be shared across social media (X, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn) and organisers are very keen to expose the dangers associated with the alcohol industry’s narrative of ‘responsible drinking’ which in essence points the finger of blame at the people who experience a range of addiction and other alcohol related health issues rather than pointing that finger at the industry.

“And what a better time to move away from a blame the victim approach, than International Women’s Day,” says Siobhan Cullen, chair of the Donegal Women’s Centre.  

The event takes place on Friday, March 8th in Donegal Women’s Centre from 1-3pm.  It will be a space and place for women to find out a little more about the ways women’s health is suffering whilst alcohol profits increase.     

Encouraging women to join the conversation over hot chocolate, tea or coffee and some afternoon treats, Siobhan says that everyone is welcome “It will be a fun and relaxed discussion and we hope that people will come along and learn more about their own health.”