On 8 March every year International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements of women while calling for greater equality. This year’s theme is “Make It Happen”.
In 1972, led by Maura O’Dea Richards, a small group of mothers who were unmarried set about reaching others in the same situation and founded Cherish, later renamed One Family.
Founder member Colette O’Neill suggested Cherish as a name for the group, taken from the 1916 Proclamation which declared that Ireland would ‘cherish all of the children of the nation equally’. Mary Robinson, then a Senator, became our first President.
At that time in Ireland, single pregnant women were often thrown out of their homes, lost their jobs and were rejected by their families and communities. It was extremely difficult for them to keep and raise their children themselves. Cherish gave these women and their children a voice for the first time, empowering women to help themselves and their families.
One of the significant changes achieved by our founders as a result of many years of lobbying was the abolition of the status of illegitimacy in 1987. The organisation was, and remains, a powerful driver for positive change.
On International Women’s Day, we are proud to celebrate our brave founders. They were women who, as individuals and collectively, ‘made it happen’. We also celebrate all women who are parenting in diverse family situations in Ireland now and who ‘make it happen’ every day.
If you would like to find out more about our founders and our history, you can listen to the Today FM documentary Cherish All The Children featuring interviews with Mary Robinson, our founders, and people who availed of our services over the years. Maura O’Dea Richards’s insightful and witty memoir Single Issue can be downloaded here.
One Family has a big vision: an Ireland where every family is cherished equally and enjoys the social, financial and legal equality to create their own positive futures. We continue to work hard to achieve these aims. Our current Strategy can be read here.