Ministers and gender equality

 

Sir, – Your editorial comment that it “is simply not good enough” that “just three of the 19 junior ministers are women” is to be commended (June 21st). Indeed it is inexcusable that this opportunity to progress gender equality in this Government has been squandered for the sake of political opportunism by the Taoiseach. Political leadership should lead by principle and example in combatting injustices such as gender discrimination . Sadly, Leo Varadkar in his selection of Ministers of State has failed in his duty to promote equality of opportunity for all, especially women, in our society. – Yours, etc,

BRENDAN BUTLER,

Malahide,

Co.Dublin.

Sir, – Dara Mac Dónaill’s photograph (June 21st) of Leo Varadkar with his Ministers of State says it all. It’s 2017, Taoiseach, not 1917. – Yours, etc,

PATRICIA O’RIORDAN,

Dublin 8.

Sir, – The dictionary definition of equality is “the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities”.

Based on the recent media commentary and the anonymous quotes of women in Fine Gael (who are afraid to ruffle Leo Varadkar’s feathers), it would appear that equality actually means having an equal number of men and women as Ministers of State and in Government.

On that basis, should there not be an equal number of male and female gardaí, nurses, solicitors, farmers, and so on? Is the ultimate objective of those who promote equality a state that has exactly the same number of male and female citizens and babies born every year?

Common sense tells me that equality means equal opportunity for both genders and not an equal number of each gender in all areas of society. There are plenty of examples of women who have achieved high office in private industry, politics, sports, etc, but all on their own merits and fully deserved. It would be a retrograde step to promote anyone to a position of any sort based on their gender and “balancing the books”. Surely that is inequality? – Yours, etc,

DECLAN GIBNEY,

Gorey, Co Wexford.

Sir, – I have written before about gender quotas, be it in politics or business. The last general election held here in Ireland was a sight to behold, with political parties “scrambling” to find women to put on the ballot paper, so as to reach 30 per cent female representation in order to not have their party funds reduced.

I am anti-gender quotas, no matter which gender they favour.

It is obvious that there is quite a shortage of women involved in politics, and every effort should be made to attract women to run for election. Quotas, however, are not the way to do this. The trouble is that when a quality woman candidate (and there are many) is chosen, the selection will be perceived to have been solely based on her gender. I can recall many women ministers over the years who were nothing short of magnificent, and, crucially they were there on merit, and seen to be.

All efforts should be made to find out what obstacles are impeding or disinclining women from running for election, and that these obstacles be removed. Gender quotas are well intentioned, but in reality, they are an insult to both genders, but particularly to women.

What prompted me to bring up this topic again was when I listened to pundits and commentators talk about Leo Varadkar’s possibilities for Cabinet. The new Taoiseach will have to give due consideration to gender and geography, we were informed. Already I have heard mutterings about the new Cabinet that such a fellow is there because he’s from that part of the country and such a woman is there because, well you know, he had to!

The longer this goes on the more it will promote inequality, surely the very thing it aims to counteract. – Yours, etc,

NOEL D WALSH,

Ballaghaderreen,

Co Roscommon.