Know Your Worth: How Udemy Dublin Celebrated International Women’s Day

Meet the trailblazers who #EmbraceEquity

Written by Niamh Madden and Ciara Courtney


On Wednesday, 8th March, we were delighted to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) at Udemy in Dublin, Ireland. We welcomed employees, guests, and speakers to our event, Embracing Equity: Stories from the Trailblazers. 

Together with our charity partner, the Irish Youth Foundation (IYF), the event raised funds to help level the playing field for young people.

Caoimhe Carlos, our Global VP of Customer Success, hosted the event and was joined by four remarkable women: 

  • Karen Fascenda, Chief People Officer at Udemy
  • Rachael Liston, Managing Partner at Liston Flavin LLP
  • Martine Du Toit, Head of Marketing at Dyson Ireland 
  • Lucy Masterson, Chief Executive Officer at Irish Youth Foundation

Focusing on the #EmbraceEquity theme, our trailblazers shared incredible stories of bravery, justice, and hope. They also recalled the mentors who lifted them and others along the way.

Here are five lessons from our inspiring speakers:

Embrace equity 

Caoimhe Carlos kicked off the event by asking us to reflect on the meaning of equity. While equality means giving everyone the same resources, equity recognizes that everyone is at a different starting point. To support women in achieving equity, leaders need to ensure the systems women are working in are equitable. 

Create a ripple effect 

Karen Fascenda shared a story about her hero: her ninety-year-old dad. Her father left high school early, but became recognised by leaders at his company who believed in his value. They gave him development opportunities to become an electrical engineer at the oil company where he was initially hired as a janitor. Karen called this the ‘ripple effect’: when people are given equity and opportunity, they create positive change for future generations and can make a real difference for families. Because of her father’s development, Karen was afforded the opportunity to have a college education, and that trickled down to her children’s opportunities, too. Caoimhe summed up the lesson as ‘the rising tide that lifts all boats.’

Be a voice for women 

Rachael Liston qualified as a solicitor – a member of the legal profession in Ireland – in 2001 and specialises in medical negligence. She particularly focuses on cases involving women’s care during pregnancy and childbirth. Rachael spoke of the heartbreaking cases she’s worked on and how she gives voices to the victims and their families who came looking for answers. In doing so, she highlighted how these tragic events helped change healthcare and hospital practices in Ireland. She continues to advocate for women to help make sure these ‘never events’ – shocking medical errors that should never occurwon’t happen again.

Share the value of independence 

Martine Du Toit captivated the audience as she shared her inspiring story of bravery. She recalled the challenges she faced after emigrating to Zimbabwe with her husband at a time of food and fuel shortages and the conflict in the region that caused terror in the community. Having to flee Zimbabwe after her marriage ended, she started over in Ireland, working two jobs as a single mum to three children under nine. Martine’s story is a testament to her strength and independence; she taught this same lesson to her children. She left the audience with a final phrase of wisdom by saying, ‘A woman’s place is wherever she wants it to be.’ 

Become the support others need 

Our last speaker, Lucy Masterson, shared stories of removing barriers for young women in Ireland. Lucy spoke of a young woman named Jody who, despite a difficult start in life, found the confidence to go to university. During the pandemic restrictions, she had easier access to classes while taking care of her son from home. When students were expected to attend college in person again, she thought she’d have to drop out, being unable to afford bus fare or childcare. The IYF granted her a financial award to remove these blockers. Lucy encouraged us all ‘to become the support someone might need.’ 

Closing thoughts 

IWD is more than an abbreviation. It’s more than an annual event. It’s the quality of healthcare we receive. It’s the mental load that stems from all the roles women handle in life. Allies, colleagues, partners, and loved ones can support the women in their lives by ensuring they’re given the tools, resources, and space to help them overcome and dismantle the specific barriers they face. 

At the event’s conclusion, Caoimhe left us with the advice she received from one of her mentors: ‘What gets attention, gets actioned.’ Identifying issues women face is the first step to solving those issues. We can build a more equitable society by actively working to rebuild systems that promote fairness.  

#EmbraceEquity tips

To strive for equity, our trailblazers encourage you to do the following: 

  • Know your worth – when you know your worth, speaking up in support of equity can be less daunting 
  • Recognise others – if you notice someone who’s undervalued, tell them you value them and ask how you can help
  • Find a mentor – ask for support and mentorship from someone whose achievements and values you admire 
  • Build community – seek connections with diverse groups of women and find ways you can all support each other
  • Educate yourself – learn how barriers show up for all types of women so you can better understand the type of support different women may need