The Gender Challenge
UPDATE 16.38: Our man in Limerick, David Raleigh, reports that around 150 “proud sluts” marched through Limerick City today in their quest to reclaim the derogatory word ‘slut’ and make it a term of empowerment for women. Personally I’d be with my colleague Anthea McTeirnan when it comes to the “slut walk” phenomenon, but each to their own I suppose http://bit.ly/zmDKTh
@AndrewMac81 reacts to Joan Burton: “rubbish! you cannot operate democracy on satisfying quotas. She should closely examine her philosophies!”
UPDATE 15.40: @kimleonard4 expressed scepticsim about gender quotas at Cabinet via twitter
UPDATE 15.35: Plently of speculation about Joan Burton’s leadership ambitions on twitter…
UPDATE 14.45: Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton made some very interesting remarks at the Women’s Day lunch. She said some people may have suspected she was disappointed with the role she was awarded when the Cabinet Ministries were distributed, “but my real disappointment was that it wasn’t a Cabinet of 50/50″ men and women.
“We are breaking a lot of glass ceilings but there’s no doubht that in politics we don’t have a critical mass of women which would lead to an, if you like, rainbow Cabinet in Ireland”. She said women and men in roughly equal numbers at Cabinet would allow Ministers to bring a variety of experience to the table.
RTE presenter Miriam O’Callaghan introduced the Minister, pointing out she would be interviewing her on television tonight. Ms O’Callaghan joked that she was being “nice me” now but would turn into “mean me” later.
UPDATE 14.40: The L’Oreal International Women’s Day lunch organised by An Cosan took place in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin this afternoon. Below are the guest lists…
UPDATE 14.10:Journalist Olivia O’Leary has told the Women for Europe event in the Mansion House, Dublin, that the number of women elected to the Dail in Ireland was “disgraceful” and called for a gender quota at Cabinet. She said since the State came into being 4,700 men had been elected to parliament while just 260 women were successful.She criticised the Labour Party for not appointing Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton to an economic ministry, pointing out that when the late Seamus Brennan of Fianna Fail was given that ministry he was widely described as having been demoted.
Ms O’Leary welcomed the Government’s proposed legislation to introduce a 30 per cent gender quota, but said the Coalition should go further. “We need to start talking about a requirement for Government to have at least 30 per cent women politicians at Cabinet.”
Referring to childcare, she said presenteeism bedevilled politics. Teleconferencing should be utilised, she added.
Ms O’Leary said women in general tended to “run away” from knowedge of financial matters. That had to stop, and women also had to stop regarding power as something masculine.
UPDATE 11.40: Former Fine Gael minister Gemma Hussey has predicted an “Irish spring for women” on twitter @GemmaMGHussey, where she describes herself as a “Former Govt Minister (Fine Gael) Feminist; Author; Commentator; Grandmother of 7″:
“Happy Women’s Day to all! So much is stirring….are we on the brink of an Irish Spring for women? See you all later at various locations.”
UPDATE 11.30: Given that Leaders’ Questions was conducted through Irish yesterday we thought there might be a possibility that women TDs could have asked (and fielded!) questions today, but it was not to be. Paedar Toibin, rather than Mary Lou McDonald, stepped up for Sinn Fein. Fianna Fail (who as noted have no women TDs) put forward Dara Calleary. A big hint that he will be appointed the new deputy leader of the party following the departure of Eamon O Cuiv…
Taoiseach Enda Kenny poses with women TDs and Senators
Taoiseach Enda Kenny posed for photographs with women TDs and Senators on the plinth outside Leinster House to mark International Women’s Day. Blessed was he amongst women, as my journalistic colleague Maria Shannon remarked on twitter.
It was all vision no sound though. Mr Kenny will take questions at an event at the Custom House later.
Good morning. A few thoughts on a recent development to begin. At the recent Fianna Fail ard fheis, a motion opposing the 30 per cent gender quota requirement for elections proposed by the Government was passed. The motion was in direct defiance of the stated position of the leadership.
When the Government published last December the Electoral Amendment Political Funding Bill 2011, which will halve State funding to parties unless 30 per cent of their candidates at the next general election are women, Fianna Fail welcomed it but was quick to commit itself to ensuring women account for 30 per cent of its local election candidates in 2014. This was the view of environment spokesman Niall Collins, strongly supported by leader Micheal Martin.
In its ard fheis brochure, Fianna Fail outlined what it saw as “the gender challenge”. It stated that the 2011 election had left the party without a woman TD and with just two women senators, Averil Power and Mary White.
“We have a strong track record in the area of equality but we must do more to involve women in our party and to ensure that more women are selected as candidates in 2014 and at the next General Election. Considerable work is underway in this regard.”
Yet the motion, “That this ard fheis oppose the 30 per cent gender requirement for elections announced by the Government”, was supported. The specific motion was proposed by a cumann in Sligo-North Leitrim, while related motions had been put forward from Laois and Limerick City.
What is Fianna Fail policy on gender quotas now?
After the General Election, the party’s state funding dropped from just over €5 million per annum to approximately €2.8 million. Can the party afford to take the financial hit that will accompany failing to implement a gender quota?