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More Action Needed to Increase Women’s Representation in Politics in Ireland

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today responded to the publication of a new report by Council of Europe’s Gender Equality Commission, which shows that Ireland is below the European average when it comes to women’s representation in politics, saying greater action was needed to increase the numbers of women in politics in Ireland.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,
‘‘This report highlights the critical need for further actions to increase women’s representation in politics in Ireland. Progress has been made since the introduction of a gender quota for General Elections, with the percentage of women in the Dáil increasing from 15% in 2011 to 22% in 2016. We know that quotas work and now we need to see a gender quota introduced for local elections and for Cabinet appointments.”

‘‘Aside from quotas, we need to work on changing the culture of the Oireachtas. The Oireachtas should be more woman and family-friendly – maternity and paternity leave should be introduced for all public representatives; video conferencing and remote voting should be introduced and a move should be made to working more business hours and discontinuing all-night debates. Other measures are needed to improve the culture of politics. For example, a code of conduct on acceptable and respectful behaviour should be introduced in the Oireachtas and gender sensitivity training could also be introduced for public representatives as part of their continued professional development programme.’

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For more information, please contact Sarah Clarkin, Communications Officer, 085 8619087.

• A link to the full Council of Europe report can be found here.
• Key recommendations from the National Women’s Council of Ireland’s 2014 publication A Parliament of All Talents: Building a Women Friendly Oireachtas include:
 Creation of a more family friendly Dáil – maternity and paternity leave introduced, working more business hours and discontinuing all night debates and introducing video conferencing and remote voting;
 Promotion of women to Cabinet– apply a 40% gender quota to Cabinet appointments
 Gender Quotas for Local Elections – Quotas need to be legislated for in relation to local elections in Ireland
 A Gender Audit conducted – A clear plan needs to be established with indicators and benchmarks to make the institutions policies and practices more gender sensitive;
 Rules developed which promote a culture of respect – development of a “Code of Conduct” for acceptable and respectful behaviour in the Oireachtas;
 Investing in politicians – gender sensitivity training done as part of “Continuing Professional Development” programmes for Oireachtas members;