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PDA Regional Official speaks at Pharmacy Forum NI event

Pharmacy Forum NI, the professional leadership body for pharmacists in Northern Ireland recently held an event title ‘Gender in NI pharmacy & the Power of Parity’. The event was hosted by PDA Regional Committee Member and Pharmacy Forum NI Board Member Andrew Cheung.

Thu 19th August 2021 The PDA

Over 50 delegates attended the event including NI Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Cathy Harrison and PSNI President Dr Jim Livingstone. Many PDA members, pharmacists and stakeholders also participated by watching the event recording.

Lelly Oboh opened with a powerful and inspiring testimony, sharing her journey as a female, black pharmacist, and the challenges she has overcome throughout her career such as unconscious-bias, micro-aggressions, pressure, and childcare. Lelly called for women to flip their challenges into opportunities.

PDA Regional Official for Northern Ireland, Una O’Farrell gave an inspiring talk titled ‘Be curious and be confident’. Here Una shared the breadth of her experience as a pharmacist working in the UK and the opportunities available to pharmacists through modern blended careers. Una’s talk outlined the dangers of imposter syndrome (IS) which refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be.

Una stressed that IS can be experienced by professional women but it is often unfounded. Una went on to highlight her desire for the next generation of pharmacists to know that a career can be something to be enjoyed and not endured.

Una said “It’s easy to sit on whatever mountain of privilege the world has lent you and feel guilty about it. That energy is better spent sharing the privilege, engaging with networks like the National Association of Women Pharmacists (NAWP) and its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee to create opportunities for others. To disrupt culture and shape and shift a new one.”

Speaking of her experience as a member of the NAWP Network, Una said “Becoming a part of the PDA NAWP Network can make you feel like your voice and opinion and where you stand in the profession is not an isolated one.”

Una encouraged women pharmacists to “be curious and confident in shooting for more senior roles outside of the conventional pharmacy box.”

Gary Kennedy represented the Irish government Balance for Better Business initiative and delivered a keynote on ‘Zero conflict between meritocracy and diversity’ reflecting on his research and learnings.

Anna McLaughlin, award winning pharmacist and working mother, talked about the benefits and opportunities of flexible working and shared her experiences of a shared role that patients have adapted to.

Frank Fleming from the Equality Commission NI gave an update on sex equality laws related to employment, protections afforded by legislation, namely the Sex Discrimination (NI) Order 1976 and the Equal Pay (NI) Act 1970. Frank’s presentation covered a wide range of discrimination issues faced by women in the workplace.

Alexa Moore of Transgender NI offered insights into the needs of trans patients and went through a ‘trans 101’ on aspects of language dos and don’ts, outdated terms to be avoided, and health inequalities experienced by the trans community.

Pharmacy Forum NI is made up of a board and committees including The Policy & Practice Committee of which Una O’Farrell is a member. Pharmacy Forum plays a vital role in Northern Ireland to help to deliver safe and sustainable health and social care services. It also leads, promotes and supports the pharmacy profession to deliver high-quality patient-centred, pharmacy care across Northern Ireland.

Una O’Farrell, PDA Regional Official for Northern Ireland

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