President calls for more women in politics
Reforms needed to harness the 'boundless talent, intelligence and skills' of women
President Michael D Higgins. Photograph: Inpho
President Michael D Higgins said last night that the low level of women in the political world was of serious concern.
Speaking at an event at Áras an Uachtaráin to mark International Women's Day, he said: "We must do much more to reform our political system to ensure that the boundless talent, intelligence and skills that women bring to the workplace generally can be more profoundly present in our parliament.
"It is my hope that at an institutional level too we may come to experience such a change in ethos as we move on from simple concessions of participation in a male patriarchal and authoritarian setting to a more complete and fully human set of arrangements in decision making."
Mr Higgins said the equality gap between men and women in Ireland remained significant and society should not accept this inequality as inevitable.
Earlier yesterday on a visit to Dublin, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, praised Minister for Finance Michael Noonan for his positive attitude towards women.
Asked about her position on gender quotas in politics, Ms Lagarde said she had initially opposed them but had seen how they worked and now supported them on a time-limited basis.
"Like many of us coming out after hard years of studies we thought we should be hired and included on the basis of our merits. When I gained experience in the professional world I soon realised that it would take forever, so yes I do think that quotas are helpful."
Ms Lagarde said quotas were necessary for a limited period of time "in order to kickstart the process".
The assistant director of a drug project in Dublin said among the most stigmatised people in Ireland today were recovering drug addicts who were mothers. Ger O'Rourke was speaking at a celebration on International Women's Day yesterday of 12 such women who have changed their lives.
The 12 recovering addicts, the majority of them mothers, were awarded Fetac qualifications in subjects including childcare, word processing and communications after completing the courses at the Saol Project in Dublin's north inner-city.
Saol supports women in drug treatment, with education, counselling, advocacy and childcare provision.