Moderated by DJ, podcaster and author Annie Macmanus, the panel was made up of co-director and co-producer of The 8th Aideen Kane, and two of the main subjects of the film; long-time activist and campaigner for feminist, LGBT+ and socialist issues Ailbhe Smyth and campaigner and changemaker Andrea Horan.
After an introduction from Mia Bays, the Director-at-large at Birds Eye View, Annie posed questions on the making of the film, activism during the time of the referendum in Ireland in 2018, and how to engage others in activism.
“It was one of the most important stories of our generation, and we wanted to be a part of telling it”, said Aideen about why she, Lucy Kennedy and Maeve O’Boyle wanted to make a film about the campaign to legalise abortion in Ireland in the first place. Why things were different in 2018 compared to in previous referendums was also discussed, Andrea saying that when campaigning, you had to be “taking the negative power out of the conversation, and making it okay to make a repeal jumper (…) and people were ready to have the conversation.”
Different styles of campaigning and activism was also discussed, Ailbhe recalling how the Yes campaign’s aim was to “ask them what they think, not tell them what to do (…) and they emerged as being much more compassionate. They cared about what happens to women.”
One of the main themes in questions from the audience was how The 8th can go on to help and inspire those fighting for reproductive rights in other countries. “It’s just worth taking that next step” said Ailbhe, saying one of the benefits about The 8th was “it’s not just the practical lessons but seeing that you can win.” Her advice? “Hold the nerve, keep the backbone straight and go straight at it!”
The night ended with an inspiring quote from Aideen: “There’s an agent of change in all of us, it’s about finding your power and bringing it out (…) Anyone can be an activist.”