International Women’s Day: the story of Lord Mayor Hazel Chu

Leadership is tough and that is a fact. However, it is definitely even tougher in the case for women, who often battle prejudice to make it to the top.

Today, on March 8th, the world marks International Women’s Day and Mayors of Europe chose one of the many incredible women and investigated her story.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu, is a breath off fresh air in the political world and is using her position to call out racism and sexism in our society today.

Born in Dublin in 1980, Hazel is the daughter of Chinese immigrants, who moved to Ireland separately in the 1970s from Hong Kong and met in Dublin,

Growing up, she admitted that politics was not a topic of discussion in her house: “When there are nine people living in a three-bedroom house, trying to put food on the table, politics are the last thing on your mind.”she explained for RTE.

Chu studied Politics and History in university of Dublin and was active in college debating and was Chairperson of the Politics Society. She proceeding to complete a legal diploma and barrister-at-law degree at The King’s Inns, and became the first Irish-born person of Chinese descent to be called to the Irish Bar, in 2007.

She joined the Green Party in 2016, and along with Catherine Martin and Grace O’Sullivan, founded Mná Glasa, the party’s women’s group, of which she co-chair.

Hazel ran for Dublin City Council as a Green Party candidate in 2019, and was the first person in the country to be declared elected.

She also made history by receiving 33.1% of first preference votes.

The following year, she was elected the 352nd Lord Mayor of Dublin, which became another historic achievement as she became the first person of colour to hold the role as well as the first ethnic Chinese mayor of a major European capital.

Being not only a woman in politics, but a woman of Chinese descent, Hazel Chu has faced both sexism and racism since entering the world of politics, where sadly, this only increased since she became Lord Mayor. She vowed to fight racism and encourage women leaders when she entered the office of Lord Mayor.

A recent study by NUIG reveals that 96% of female politicians receive hate and abusive messages online, something that Hazel is vocal about changing.

She uses her social media to call out racism and shares some of the horrific messages she has been receiving in order to spread awareness and work towards introducing legal bills to stop this online abuse.

She is also turning to social media companies in order to help stop this online harassment.

“Social media companies need to step up to the mark and they have a direct obligation to users, especially those being abused on their platforms. As one of the female politicians who receives frequent online abuse, action to tackle it cannot come soon enough for me and for everyone.” she told the Women’s Council of Ireland.

Hazel lives in the Mansion House with her husband, Paul Costello, who is a TD for the Green Party, and her three year daughter Alex.

Alex inspires her continued battle for equality in Ireland, so she can live in a fairer world.

We admire Hazel’s resilience and determination to make changes in an area dominated by men, and her strength to stand up for what is right to try and make Ireland a better place, celebrating diversity.

 

Photo credit: Lord Mayor Chu for Instagram. Source fm104.ie