Most Influential People2019

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Grainne Griffin, Ailbhe Smyth and Orla O'Connor

By Ruth Negga
Co directors of Together for Yes, an abortion rights campaign group, Ailbhe Smyth, Grainne Griffin, Orla O’Connor
Linda Brownlee for TIME

Ireland is changing. Just three years ago, we voted to introduce marriage equality for same-sex couples. And in May 2018, Irish society voted to lift the near total ban on abortion that had been in place for 35 years. Society gave its overwhelming blessing to the fundamental rights of women and girls to bodily autonomy, after generations of secondary status, largely dictated by the power and oppression of the Catholic Church.

Together for Yes, the campaign to repeal the eighth amendment to the Irish constitution, put the Mná na hÉireann (women of Ireland) front, center and in control of their own bodies and rights like never before. It was breathtaking to witness the determination, intelligence and sheer hard work of its leaders Grainne Griffin, Ailbhe Smyth and Orla O’Connor, who mobilized people of all different backgrounds in the lead-up to the vote. They put the experiences of women and the needs of their country first.

Their incredible tenacity and integrity and courageousness will be an inspiration for generations to come.

Negga is an Oscar-nominated actor who was raised in Limerick, Ireland