As part of a programme called Youth Media and the Irish Presidency (YMIP), Tricia Purcell from Templemore was one of two people to interview the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday of last week. Christine Lagarde, who is the first female head of the organisation with $1tr in available credit, was in Dublin to meet the government to discuss Ireland’s current financial situation.
Below Tricia recounts her experiences: I got to attend Ms Lagarde’s morning press conference in the Dáil where she spoke alongside Michael Noonan, Finance Minister, and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore.
As her visit coincided with International Women’s Day, another young journalist, Órla Ryan, and I got to have a private interview with Ms Lagarde with regard to issues around gender quotas, women in politics and the continued fight for equal rights for women.
Speaking on the topic of getting more women into politics, she said she is in favour of gender quotas, but this was not always the case, saying in the past she found them “offensive”. However, Ms Lagarde now feels they should be implemented temporarily to kick-start increased female involvement in politics.
“Once a threshold has been reached we can do away with quotas and demonstrate on our own merits that we can be trusted, that we can contribute, that we deserve to be elected, hired or promoted,” she stated.
Despite the advancements of women, Ms Lagarde feels we still have a long way to go to achieve full equality.
“If you look at the payslip of a woman and the payslip of a man doing the same job, I can bet you that there is at least a 15, if not 20 per cent difference between the two. So yes we must continue to fight and we must enlarge the circle of those who fight with us.”
This interview was also filmed by RTÉ who used a clip from our interview on their daytime programme, Today.
Ms Lagarde was an inspirational character to get the opportunity to interview, especially for the day that was in it. The French woman was the first female Finance Minister of a G8 country as well as the first female to chair, giant law firm, Baker McKenzie.
For women who are starting their careers, she advised: “Never give up, grit your teeth and smile.” “Assume that you can do just as well as everybody else, including boys. If people don’t respect you or accept you, leave them to it, they don’t deserve you.”
She towered over the Tánaiste and Finance Minister in the morning presser where she praised Ireland’s efforts at recovery and said: “Sometimes there is a worry about what is at the end of the road. There is clearly hope at the end of this road.”
As part of European Movement Ireland’s YMIP programme, I will be covering further events around Ireland hosting the EU presidency but I doubt I will be lucky enough to interview someone as impressive as Madame Lagarde.
Tricia Purcell and Órla Ryan are student journalists with Youth Media and the Irish Presidency (YMIP). YMIP is a Youth in Action funded initiative funded by European Movement Ireland. As part of YMIP, 25 young journalists have been recruited to bring a youth-focused perspective to the coverage of the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU. More information on YMIP can be found at http://www.europeanmovement.ie/ymip/.