Government ‘should consider 50-50 gender quota’ for election candidates

Review of National Women’s Strategy finds women continue to be under-represented in decision-making roles

 The mid-term review of the National Women’s Strategy published by the Department of Justice says there has been “no significant increase in women’s involvement in politics in more than 15 years”.   Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA

The mid-term review of the National Women’s Strategy published by the Department of Justice says there has been “no significant increase in women’s involvement in politics in more than 15 years”. Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA

 

The Government should consider making political parties run equal numbers of male and female candidates in each constituency if the 30 per cent target for female candidates is not reached at the next general election, a report recommends.

The mid-term review of the National Women’s Strategy published by the Department of Justice said there had been “no significant increase in women’s involvement in politics in more than 15 years”.

The report, Towards Gender Parity in Decision-Making in Ireland, said women continued to be under-represented in areas such as State boards and in senior management in the Civil Service.

With regard to women’s representation in politics, it noted the Government legislation linking public funding of political parties to the selection of female candidates for election.

It said that if the 30 per cent target was not reached at the next general election, the Government should “consider adopting a legislative quota for party candidates whereby each party would be required to submit the names of equal numbers of men and women in each constituency”.

The report said barriers to women’s advancement could be divided into two categories: the persistence of traditional gender roles and attitudes and perceptions. It said figures published by the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) in 2009 showed women were still responsible for 80 per cent of the tasks of family life such as childcare, elder-care, cooking and cleaning.

In addition, gender stereotypes and perceptions “continue to frustrate women’s efforts to reach top management positions in all areas of decision-making in Ireland”.

Some of the “persistent challenges” to be faced in tackling the issues of gender inequality and the appointment of women to leadership roles were likely to include a belief that “gender equality has already been achieved”. They might also include a belief in “meritocracy” and that if someone was good enough, they would “get to the top”. “This doesn’t take into account the extra constraints and obstacles which women have to contend with,” it said.