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40% Gender Quotas Pave the Way for Full Representation of Women: NWC

Published: Monday, February 27, 2023

The National Women’s Council has warmly welcomed the coming into force of 40% gender quotas for political parties running candidates for election to the Oireachtas. The Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012 introduced gender quotas into the Irish electoral system, and on 27 February the quota will move from 30% to 40%.  

NWC director Orla O’Connor said:  

“A critical mass of 40% is needed to have impact, change outcomes for women, and create a positive chain reaction. It’s hugely positive to see this today, but it will take more than quotas to gain equal representation for women. Gender-based abuse of female politicians must be tackled, family-friendly policies adopted, and women must be put forward for seats that are actually winnable. We must also see gender quotas extended to local elections”.  

The 30% gender quota saw the number of women elected rising from 16% in 2011 to 22% in 2016. However, progress stalled in 2020 with women’s representation moving to 22.5%. This places Ireland 98th in the world for women’s representation in national parliaments, falling behind countries such as China and Iraq. 

The Citizens Assembly recommended that, by the end of 2022; gender quotas for party candidates should extend to local, Seanad and European Elections; penalties for parties that don’t meet the quota would be increased; and the threshold would move from 30% to 40% for both women and men.  

It is crucial that women are placed as candidates in winnable seats and with adequate time and resources to plan and run a successful campaign for election. Gender-based abuse and harassment is an increasing barrier to women's political participation and must be tackled. The recent meeting in this regard was positive, but it must include all female politicians. 

The recent high-profile resignation of Jacinda Ardern has shown that women need support to balance competing demands. Family-friendly policies must be introduced across all levels of government to support equality.  

Women, in all our diversity, must be represented at all levels of decision making. It is often those who are furthest away from power - Traveller and Roma women, working class women, disabled women, migrant women, LGBTQ+ community and women in rural communities – who experience the impact of policy making the most. They face additional barriers in achieving full and equal participation in public and political life. As such, targets are required to increase the representation of women from marginalised groups. 


For comment: Orla O’Connor 

For more information, please contact Sinéad Nolan on sineadn@nwci.ie 

About NWC  

The National Women’s Council is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. We have over 190 member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters. 

This year we celebrate 50 years since our foundation with a special calendar of events and campaigns. 

The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work.  

We are a movement-building organisation rooted in our membership, working on the whole island of Ireland. We are also part of the international movement to protect and advance women’s and girls’ rights. Our purpose is to lead action for the achievement of women’s and girls’ equality through mobilising, influencing, and building solidarity. Find out more on www.nwci.ie