International Women’s Day is a United Nations–sanctioned global holiday that aims to celebrate women’s contributions to society and raise awareness to the areas of society that need to improve to reach gender equality. At No.1 Media we use it as way to amplify women’s voices and however you choose to celebrate it, we are here to listen and learn. This week we are spotlighting some of Irelands most beloved businesswomen and entrepreneurs.
Each year has an official theme, but unofficially, many people use it as a day to remember all the women that have made an impact in their lives through sharing International Women’s Day quotes, thoughtful messages, and more. Today we spoke with MarieAnn Mc Loughlin Dwyer the tenacious co-founder of Runway28 Premium Gin, writer and producer.
What does IWD mean to you?
Well, The United Nations began International Woman’s Day in 1975, in an effort to highlight and support the rights and accomplishments of women. I was nine year’s old at the time, and back then Ireland was a completely different place for women compared to the present day. I was about to find out! For example, the marriage work ban in Ireland wasn’t scrapped until 1973. The provision of contraception wasn’t provided in the state until 1978 (prescription only), and finally in 1985 (the year I had my first child), condoms could be sold over the counter for the first time. I believe myself, that it would take another ten years or so before the stigma of women trying to control child-birth would start to subside. International Women’s Day celebrates and creates awareness surrounding women’s fundamental place within society. In Ireland we have had two female presidents, the present leaders of the two largest political parties in the North of Ireland, and one in the south are women. During the pandemic for example, frontline women staff in all professions have demonstrated tenacity, dedication, and timelessness that would challenge any man. This is incredible progress, something we are all very proud, and always conscious of. IWD continues to reiterate and maintain these massively important messages. Awareness changes culture. However, it is more important now than ever to remember the forgotten and unheard voices of women in parts of the world where they are not even aware of IWD. There is so much to be done.
What does your role entail?
I work in several roles. I am a writer/producer (who recently completed the online docu/web series “Behind the Truth” on RTE Culture) and I am also the co-founder of a premium gin label called “Runway28 Premium Gin” a wholly Irish brand, produced in collaboration with Listoke Distillery in Co. Louth.
What have been some of the biggest struggles and triumphs as a woman in business?
To be honest, I have struggled less in business as I have gotten older. I feel that this is something to do with my lacking confidence in the past. I tended to sit in boardrooms, usually with men, and not speak up. I found (probably because I left school way too early) that I worried more about deserving my space and contribution. At times I was awkward about floating ideas. Now, the Zoom conferences are full of women! The biggest triumph for me, is that I have been around long enough now to have reached senior status (with confidence) I’ve hung in there, I’ve earned my stripes! I have been fortunate to feel the benefits of the winds of change, at the same time as reaching middle-age.
What skills are important to have in your sector?
I think it’s the same in all sectors. Be yourself, try your best to be a good communicator, be a good listener. Be wise enough to recognise good advice. Be kind and fair.
What are the current challenges for women in your sector?
In terms of TV/Film production, it’s still quite challenging out there for women, particularly older women. Work is light on the ground in production, with a lot of competition out there. I think this is largely due to the fact that we are a small population with 2 domestic channels, most of the “gate-keepers” have been in place for years. New ideas are hard to float. It doesn’t stop me writing however, and like many others in the arts, I work several jobs so I’m covered. As far as the independent commercial world is concerned however, the world is your oyster. You get back what you put in!
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
Actually, we older lot have blazed a trail in many ways, as our mothers did for us always. The up-and-coming generation of women have many new challenges to face themselves. Their world is becoming, paradoxically, more connected and yet more isolated. It is becoming more rapid, and they operate in a more virtual world. They still have the same responsibilities to manage as we did, particularly surrounding child-care, however, we didn’t have “devices” surrounding us all of the time – phones, iPads, desktop computers. Young women today have become superb multi-taskers, my only fear is that they won’t learn to balance it all out. Yes, you can “have it all” but a happy life is about balance, and the all-important awareness of this.
Describe the 3 characteristics about yourself that you believe led to your success in business.
- Don’t give up
- Don’t give up
- Don’t give up
What woman has positively impacted/inspired you in your career, and what is one lesson she taught you?
Hand on heart I have to say it has not been any one woman. I am surrounded by sisters, daughters, female friends and of course my mother and grandmothers. I have seen all of these women work, create, and educate themselves, in the hope of bettering themselves, and to become contributors within society,and to lead by example. I have also witnessed the difficult moments too, moments of disappointment, set-backs, and grief. But the one inspirational thing that they all have in common is that they are unstoppable. PS- A shout out also to the many amazingly progressive and supportive men who have championed me in my life. Many have lifted me up and encouraged me during my career to date. Indeed, the contribution of our brothers to the progress of our lives, must not be forgotten. As always, teamwork is key to make this a better world for all of us.
What do you do on a regular basis to celebrate your woman self?
Enjoy a nice Runway28 Premium Gin with a Poacher’s (light) tonic! of course, I love chatting to my “gal pals” in the evenings and genuinely get a real buzz when I hear about their positive and creative stories, especially during this wave of continuous lockdown. I’m absolutely so blown away (but not surprised) with the amount of new business ideas that have popped up from women who are adapting to massive change.
What is a daily or weekly ritual you have that contributes to your ongoing success?
Honestly…downtime. We (as women) tend to think that we have to be all things to all people! Again, headspace and balance are key to being able to function all week. I’m lucky enough to live near Rossnowlagh beach. When I walk there, I work out my thoughts, and just breath…
What is something interesting you are currently working on? Personal or professional.
Professionally, I’m still working as a freelance writer, so I’m always writing articles, especially when I hear/meet interesting people with a unique story ,and as I mentioned earlier, my other cap is running Runway28 Gin. I am presently busy trying to get the brand out there, and introduce the world to its earthy Irish botanical taste. On that note I will leave you with this one quote I love about women, written by an unknown author “Here’s to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.”
Happy International Women’s Day!
by Mary-Jane O Regan