“Employers Have A Role To Play In Supporting Women With Endometriosis To Remain In The Workforce”.

One in 10 women in Ireland suffer from endometriosis.

“One in six women living with endometriosis leave the workforce due to symptoms, but that doesn’t need to be the case.” That’s according to Adeline O’Brien, CEO of Empower, the local development company for Fingal. Ms. O’Brien was speaking at an event today Friday, 6th March 2020, in Draíocht Arts Centre, Dublin 15 to raise awareness of the condition and its impact on women’s careers. Endometriosis is a common chronic inflammatory condition where tissue, similar to the tissue that normally grows inside the uterus, grows outside of the uterus. 

The event is being held in partnership with the Endometriosis Association of Ireland, as part of the company’s International Women’s Day celebrations. The event seeks to highlight the practical steps that employers can take to help employees with endometriosis remain in their jobs.

Speaking at the event today, Adeline O’Brien said: “10 per cent of women in Ireland live with endometriosis. There is no reason for so many of these women leaving their jobs, given how simple changes can facilitate them to stay in work.  As an employer of women living with the condition, I have seen first-hand how very practical steps can help make it possible for women to stay in the work force.

“This is an often invisible condition, despite the very real impact it has on people living with it. To be able to facilitate women, employers must know more about the condition and take the impact on women’s personal and professional lives seriously. The condition can cause extreme abdominal and pelvic pain and infertility. One of the main aims of today’s event is to begin a conversation about endometriosis and employment, and to dismantle the stigma around that conversation.

“Once we’re aware of the severity of the condition, we can then facilitate the needs of people living with endometriosis. A number of Empower staff are living with the condition, which is no surprise given that it affects one in 10 women in Ireland. What helps is flexibility, enabling women to work when they can. Providing flexible working arrangements has helped Empower to retain very talented employees. The employment landscape in Ireland continues to shift towards greater levels of flexibility for employees, so this is just one more reason to continue this trend.”

Also speaking at the event was Barbara Doyle, a staff member of Empower who works with long-term unemployed people, and who has been living with endometriosis since 2010.

Barbara commented: “As someone who is currently living with endometriosis, every day I face challenges in relation to my personal, professional and financial life. My symptoms began after the birth of my third child, and took years for me to be diagnosed with endometriosis.

“There is a common misconception that endometriosis mainly affects women who don’t have children, and at times I felt that my pain was not being taken seriously. Before I was diagnosed, my fainting spells due to the intense pain I was suffering had become so frequent I had begun practicing my falling technique to avoid further injury. I withdrew from socialising and was struggling to go to work every day.

“Following my diagnosis, Empower were incredibly supportive. I’ve been facilitated to work part-time, and I’ve been met with empathy and understanding around my needs. Without the support of my employer, Empower, I wouldn’t be in a position to continue working and providing for my three children.

“I acknowledge that not everyone is as lucky to have an employer who is as aware of the impact of endometriosis, but this must change. Working part-time has enabled me to continue with my career, and more women living with endometriosis should have that opportunity.”