We were delighted to welcome Canadian Ambassador Kevin Vickers and Equal Voice Vice President Joan Weinman to Cork recently. They spoke at UCC about the Canadian experience of implementing gender balance in politics.
Like Ireland they have struggled to implement systems that allow both sexes to prosper in equal measure in politics. They agree that gender balance is a necessary feature of a properly functioning democracy. They have managed to achieve one in four without quotas but have struggled to move beyond that number. We have had to implement legislated candidate quotas in order to move to one in five in this general election.
Canada has the first gender balanced cabinet of a developed economy. We look forward in Ireland to be able to do that sometime this century – hopefully.
Edel Clancy, Ambassador Kevin Vickers and Joan Weinman at UCC.
The number of women that ran for election in 2016 was the highest in the history of our democracy. This is directly as a result of the candidate selection gender quotas for general elections brought into being by the Fine Gael/Labour Government in 2012. The number of women elected to the 32nd Dail has increased also. In the 31st Dail the number was 26 out of 166 – 16%. In the 32nd Dail the number increased to 35 but the total number of TDs was reduced to 158 – 22%. The 5050 group is very proud of the part that we have played in promoting gender balance in our Dail. Women are 50% of the population and in a properly functioning democracy women should be 50% of the representation. For the forthcoming Local Elections in 2019 the gender quotas do not apply. It is incumbent on the leadership in the political parties which is mostly male to implement the gender quota on a voluntary basis. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael did not manage to voluntarily implement the 30% voluntary quota in LE2014. Let them start to implement the various initiatives that have been recommended to deal with the systems that favour male candidates unfairly.