THE WOMAN IN THE JUMPER
In 2012, at a silent vigil of mourners gathered to remember Savita Halappanavar, a woman who died needlessly because of Ireland’s regressive anti-abortion laws, Anna Cosgrave felt powerless, haunted, and outraged. She decided to do something to help women affected by Ireland’s anti-abortion laws and to contribute in some way towards the pro-choice movement that spanned decades before her. Since the 1980s, over 160,000 Irish women travelled to the UK for abortions, and still, almost twelve women leave every day to go into temporary exile.
In 2016, after seeing a photograph of writer and feminist activist, Gloria Steinem, wearing a t-shirt that said ‘I had an abortion’, Anna figured out a way to make her contribution by launching her Repeal Project. She moved the conversation onto a jumper, “as a stigma-buster for the lonely unsupported women, living with shame, to feel supported.” Repeal Project brought together musicians, young activists, and artists to collaborate in supporting grassroots organisations. The Repeal Jumper became an iconic image during the 2018 Irish Abortion campaign. The black jumper with white lettering was worn proudly by a grassroots army of young Irish emigrants coming home to vote, and became a byword for the issue of abortion in Ireland. Instantly recognisable, it was worn in the British House of Commons, and by people as diverse as Jo Brand, Vivienne Westwood, Bernie Saunders and Sharon Horgan.
As well as spreading the message, the Repeal Project helped raise hundreds of thousands for volunteer organisations working on the campaign such as the Abortion Rights Campaign, Not At Home, Coalition To Repeal The Eighth, and Together For Yes. Anna was nominated as 1 of 10 Ashoka Changemakers in 2017, won U Magazine Campaign of the Year 2017, and represented Ireland in Brussels at the F.I. gathering of feminist political activists. Anna is an abortion rights and political activist, aspiring journalist, and co-founder of “March On The Streets”, which launches in 2019. Next summer she will host an international fundraiser for an Irish Abortion Fund. Anna lives in Dublin and cites Senator Lynn Ruane, whom she assisted over the last two years, as her hero and the future of politics.