Just 24 hours after the publication of the draft legislation which aims to increase women’s participation in politics in Ireland, Minister of State for Equality Kathleen Lynch T.D. announced preliminary plans to host a major conference entitled “How to Elect More Women?” on 20th January 2012 in Dublin Castle. (Download Poster here ).
Minister Lynch welcomed the debate on the draft legislation announced by Environment Minister Phil Hogan T.D. This new law, when enacted, will require political parties to include at least 30 per cent of women as candidates at the next election. Failure to comply will affect the level of State funding to the parties.
The Equality Minister reiterated the Government’s commitment to more gender balanced decision-making, particularly in political life. Over the past nine months the Minister has been chairing a working group on the advancement of women in decision-making roles including politics and it is in this context that the Conference being announced today is taking place.
Speaking about women in politics in Ireland, Minister Lynch said that it is a challenge to us all that
in the 21st Century, a progressive country like Ireland ranks among the poorest performers at EU level, and indeed internationally, when it comes to equality in politics.
Pointing out that, some 90 years after women got the vote, fewer than one in seven of our Dáil Deputies are women, the Minister then commented that
All the most progressive countries in Europe make full use of the talents of both their women and their men in the world of politics. We read only this week that women in Ireland are now joint top of the class in international education comparisons.
Women and men work well together in all fields of life across our country and it is time that we brought those collaborative strengths to the political arena.
The Minister noted the diverse backgrounds of the men who have been elected to serve in Ireland.
She said that "the aim of the conference is to encourage women from an equally diverse range of backgrounds to consider a new role for themselves as political party members, as potential candidates, as contestants in elections and as representatives of both their area and their beliefs in the local and national political arenas."
The Minister pointed to the challenges which face the political parties over the next five years as they identify good women candidates. However she believes that the local elections will present an excellent first step towards the Dáil for many women.
Minister Lynch thanked the officials of many of the political parties, large and small, who had contributed to a very positive discussion with her on the preliminary preparations for the January conference. She believes that their commitment and positive attitude will ensure a lively and fruitful event for all Parties.
NOTE FOR EDITORS
Women comprise only 15 per cent of Deputies in Dáil Éireann at present. A number of studies undertaken by the Oireachtas in 2009 and 2010 looked at the barriers to women’s participation and at steps required to address the gender deficit in Irish politics.
The Conference entitled “How to Elect More Women?” will take place at the Conference Centre Dublin Castle on 20th January 2012. It will run from 10:00 to 16:15.
Further details will be announced in early January.
The Minister is inviting a wide range of speakers to the Conference. This will include national and international politics experts, media commentators, serving politicians, party officials and party leaders.
The Minister is hopeful that the Conference will attract a very broad audience.
This may include women interested in further advancing their involvement in politics, women active in community or business life who may feel that they would like to hear more about politics as an option for further engagement in civil life. It is also likely to be of interest to political parties and their members as they are now called upon to increase the numbers of women candidates in the future.