Call for family-friendly policies to encourage women into local government
Published: Wednesday, September 14, 2022
The National Women's Council (NWC) today -14 September- launches a toolkit for local authorities on how to encourage women into local government and support them to stay. The toolkit will be launched by Minister of State for Planning and Local Government Peter Burke, and attended by a representative of the Lord Mayor of Dublin.
Speaking in advance of the launch, Minister Peter Burke TD said:
“My Department and I have a longstanding and fruitful relationship with NWC, and were pleased to be in a position to provide funding for this vital toolkit, which explores the measures local authorities, and councillors themselves, can take to make local government accessible to those with caring responsibilities.
The solid, practical recommendations contained within should provide the perfect launch-pad for some important conversations around family friendly practices in local authorities, and have the potential to generate real change”.
The Minister commended the quality of the research and, in particular, highlighted the opportunity for some of the suggestions proposed in the toolkit to precipitate a shift in thinking in local authorities.
In 2021, the Citizens Assembly on Gender Equality called for urgent action to provide the family-friendly policies needed to diversify politics.
NWC Director Orla O’Connor said:
“We need more women involved in the decisions that shape all of our lives. Yet still, in 2022, women are being forced to choose between their career in public office and their family commitments. This toolkit is intended to help drive change, so that it becomes normal to see women with young families in decision-making spaces.
Lack of maternity leave and affordable childcare are preventing women from entering into and staying in politics. This particularly affects women from already disadvantaged groups. For example, Traveller women are more likely to shoulder caring responsibilities, migrant women may not have access to family support networks, and lone parents may not have the support of a partner. The lack of representation for these groups can mean crucial decisions which affect their lives are being made without them.”
The Family-Friendly Toolkit includes a 10-step plan for embedding family-friendly practices, including the development of parental supports such as maternity leave and childcare. We are also recommending that good hybrid working practices are retained, as these are transformative for everyone with caring responsibilities.
Women continue to be underrepresented in local government, currently holding only 25% of Council seats. This is a marginal increase from 21% after the 2014 local elections. Only 10 Councils have 30% or more women councillors. There is also a significant urban and rural disparity in women’s representation, with many rural Councils having less than five women Councillors.
Concluding, the Minister said “organisations like the National Women’s Council play an important role in tackling the barriers faced by women when considering getting involved in local government, and I look forward to continuing our work together to make our council chambers more reflective of the communities they serve”.
For more information, please contact Sinéad Nolan, NWC Communications and Social Media Coordinator, email@example.com
What: Launch of NWC Family Friendly Toolkit
When: 14 September, 10:30am to 12:30pm.
Where: Custom House, North Dock, Dublin 1.
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.
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