Happy International Childfree Day!
To celebrate this day, the winners of the Childfree Person of the Year and Childfree Group of the Year are announced! First, the Selection Panel gives a big thanks to all who nominated such great nominees. Every year, amazing childfree people are nominated, and the Panel faces tough decisions!
Here are the 2021 childfree winners and their nomination submissions:
2021 Childfree Person of the Year: Margaret O’Connor
Margaret received two wonderful nominations. Here they are:
Nomination I by Gearoid Cullinan
My girlfriend, Margaret O’Connor, knew from an early age that children were not for her. Throughout her life, she has experienced all the usual reactions from ‘I’m sure you’ll change your mind when you meet the right guy’ to the classic ‘Who is going to look after you when you are old?’. Margaret was fascinated by the subject and knew she couldn’t be alone in feeling like this. She felt that the childfree choice wasn’t being talked about enough. She decided to do a Masters in Gender Studies and conduct her thesis on the thought process that women go through when deciding whether or not to have children.
Margaret works as a counsellor and psychotherapist as well as a lecturer. She recently started a new service called ‘Are Kids For Me?’ where she helps women, men and couples who are having trouble figuring out if they should have kids or not. This is the first service of its kind in Ireland and has helped so many people around the world who have felt confused, pressurized and alone to make one of the biggest decisions of their life. She also started the ‘Are kids For Me?’ podcast to show other like-minded people that they are not alone. In the podcast she speaks with various people who share their own experiences; some who always knew they didn’t want children, others who were unsure what they wanted as well as other points of view. She wanted to show people that the decision not to have children did not have to define them; that they could live a happy, fulfilling life in many ways and that a like-minded community does exist.
Margaret was keen to spread this message to a broader audience and was recently invited to speak about the subject on national television in Ireland. She was also interviewed on a number of radio stations in Ireland and the UK as well as appearing in quite a few national newspapers. The subject has been gaining more and more traction and support in the mainstream media and she is keen to keep the conversation going. She wants childfree people to be seen more in society and wants people to respect that having children is not for everyone and should not be a given.
Margaret loves kids and has two gorgeous nieces who she adores. She is also a wonderful mother to our three beautiful cats (our fur babies as she likes to call them) which shows me every day that you can still be maternal and loving without having children. She has a hugely fulfilling life with a challenging career that she loves, travelling the world and enjoying life with her family. I’m delighted to say that I will be marrying this amazing woman in October.
Nomination II by Ali Wyllie
Margaret has taken her childfree status and passion further than many of us. Not only has made it her vocation, but she is dedicating her time to help others. She helps individuals and couples decide whether or not children are for them. In 2019 she started ‘Are Kids For Me’ counselling service. She provides an objective and balanced platform to help those struggling with the decision on whether or not to have children. Whilst she has chosen a childfree life she does not preach this to others but helps them find comfort in this choice and decision if it is the right choice for them. She has also created an ‘Are Kids For Me’ podcast which is now onto the second season. This explores the childfree choice from all angles. In a fair, respectful and mature manner, which we can expect from Margaret.
Margaret lives and works in Ireland, a hugely pronatalist country. Her work here can be considered pioneering and brave, given the ingrained assumption of reproduction.
She actively promotes the childfree choice as being a valid and worthwhile life choice. A choice that does not retract from womanhood or manhood. She has been featured in national media including Limerick Leader, Irish Examiner, Live 95 radio, podcast live 95 radio, Red FM, Today FM, Radio one with Claire Byrne, BBC Radio Ulster with Lynette Faye, The Irish Times, Irish Independent and a TV appearance on Ireland AM on Virgin Media.
Margaret recently ran a first-of-its-kind course in Ireland designed for people to explore their childfree choice identity through therapeutic writing. She also has an article published in the Irish Journal of Counselling + Psychotherapy (2017) to increase the childfree choice awareness among other counsellors.
Margaret is spectacular in her interviews, she is compassionate and humble. She is respectful and authentic. She has the ability to captivate her audience with her calm and educated manner. Meaning her audience listens intently to her and respects her.
Outside her work, which takes up a huge chunk of her life, Margaret leads a quiet and content life. She enjoys relaxing in the company of her partner and cat.
I feel Margaret would be an excellent fit for Childfree Person of the Year as I have watched from the sidelines as she works tirelessly in promoting and normalising the childfree by choice lifestyle.
2021 Childfree Group of the Year: We are Childfree Community
Nominated by Julie Sebastian, MSW
I would like to nominate Zoë Noble’s “We Are Childfree” community for the Childfree Group of the Year award. This group is ideally suited for the award because it is building online and in person community for women and gender diverse people around the world who want to live openly with the identity of “childfree.”
The We Are Childfree group uses electronic mediums (website, e-newsletter, podcast, Instagram, Facebook, twitter) to reach childfree people globally and encourage local meet-ups so that uniquely local communities can be built. It speaks through art and storytelling, methods that cross cultures. Zoë and the group of people she has photographed, interviewed for the We Are Childfree podcast, and whose stories have been shared in the We Are Childfree newsletter, on the website, and on social media are working together to show the world what an open childfree life can look like.
We Are Childfree is working to universalize the experience of choosing a childfree life. Universalization shows content consumers first of all that there is a choice to be made, i.e. that birthing children is not the only natural state for womanhood. Second, it shows that the choice to be childfree can result in a fulfilled and happy life. This organizing work is important for changing the social stigma that a childfree choice continues to carry in most if not all world cultures. When individuals feel universality about a life state, this drives media attention, public policy changes, and in the end we hope, meaningful change.
We Are Childfree is also working to build intentional community around the identity of childfree. A common reaction to the childfree choice is “who will take care of you when you get old?” We Are Childfree’s answer to this is to create safe space for individuals to organically grow local and online communities so that those who have made this choice can thrive together.
We Are Childfree has been successful in gaining media attention (see articles in the New York Times, Der Tagesspiegel, Berliner Zeitung, Welt, Der Zeit, and guest spots on podcasts) at a time when articles about the dropping birth rate in several developed countries have been front and center. It has also drawn interested content consumers from around the world to over 45,000 followers on Instagram, Facebook and twitter As it is nurtured, We Are Childfree has the potential to continue to grow, to link childfree women and diverse people around the world, and to meaningfully impact the acceptance of the choice to live childfree. I believe it deserves to be the Childfree Group of the Year in 2021.
Many thanks to all of the stellar nominees, those who nominated them, and all who have been part of and celebrate International Childfree Day, an annual, celebratory recognition of amazing childfree people and their lives!