Women for Election brings its gender equality campaign to Brussels

Women hold just 15% of Oireachtas seats, compared with EU average of 20%

Barbara Nolan, head of the European Commission’s representation in Ireland, said it was actively supporting efforts to encourage more Irish women to become active in politics. Photograph: David Sleator.

Barbara Nolan, head of the European Commission’s representation in Ireland, said it was actively supporting efforts to encourage more Irish women to become active in politics. Photograph: David Sleator.

Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 01:00


Women for Election, a non-partisan group promoting gender equality in politics, brought its campaign to Brussels yesterday with a two-day visit to the EU capital.

Among the delegation were 20 female candidates from Ireland who are contesting this year’s European and local elections, to be held on May 23rd.

Candidates met a number of senior EU officials during the day, including European Commission secretary general Catherine Day, who is Irish. European ombudsman Emily O’Reilly addressed the group yesterday evening.


Active support
Speaking in Brussels, Barbara Nolan, head of the commission’s representation in Ireland, said it was actively supporting efforts to encourage more Irish women to become active in politics.

“Over 36 per cent of Irish women have a third-level education, a figure well above the EU average,” she said, adding that this statistic should be reflected in the number of women holding decision-making roles.

Some 15 per cent of seats in the Oireachtas are held by women, below the EU average of about 20 per cent.

However, she noted that five of Ireland’s 12 MEPs – or 42 per cent – are women: Nessa Childers, Emer Costello, Phil Prendergast, Marian Harkin and Mairead McGuinness.

Among the delegation taking part in the two-day mission to Brussels are four Irish women who plan to contest the European elections for the first time: Mary Fitzpatrick (Fianna Fáil), Lynn Boylan and Liadh Ní Riada (Sinn Féin), and Grace O’Sullivan (Green Party).

While parties have yet to complete the selection process for candidates for the European election, research conducted by Women for Election has found that, to date, Dublin has the highest percentage of female candidates running in this year’s local election.