A Date for your Diary and more…..

The 5050 Group and Longford Women’s Manifesto Group are pleased to announce their up coming seminar …….


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5050 Group and Longford Women’s Manifesto Group

Voices & Views from Local Elections 2014

How women fared – reflections and lessons for the General Election

Friday 30 January 2014, 10am – 2pm

Longford Women’s Link


  • Dr. Adrian Kavanagh, Maynooth University Dept. of Geography
  • Claire McGing, 5050 Group/Maynooth University
  • Cllr. Kathleen Shanagher (Independent)
  • Cllr. Maura Hopkins (Fine Gael)
  • Nora Fahy (Fianna Fáil) former election candidate
  • Johnny Fallon, Political Analyst

Registration and programme details to follow in the New Year.

Attendance is free and a light lunch will be provided

In a wide ranging interview Micheal Martin has outlined his views on increasing the number of female candidates at the next general election. You can read it here

Micheal Martin’s interview in the Journal

Posted in 50/50 strategy, 50:50 local groups, Gender Politics, Irish political parties, Irish politicians, Media, Men supporting 50:50, Quota Bill, Successful women | Leave a comment

What is Fionnan Sheehan’s real agenda?

Before I became involved in the 5050 group I saw the media as neutral observers reporting in an impartial way on the ‘facts’. I have now come to understand that not only are the media not neutral but they frame how many people come to inform themselves on a subject.

The question for me is does Fionnan Sheehan think it is a good idea to have a more gender balanced political representation? This is important because how he frames his article on Fine Gael’s efforts to redress that gender imbalance can be approached in different ways.

Fionnan Sheehan’s article

The article is set in such a way as to inflame any would be male candidate with a misplaced sense of grievance. It also places the women mentioned at a disadvantage because it presents them as gaining an unfair advantage. The myth that all male candidates were there on merit  and that women don’t ‘make it’ because they are just not good enough is promoted.

Nowhere in the article is there an explanation that men have had an unfair advantage since the foundation of the state. Nowhere in the article is there a mention that no other country has managed to redress the gender imbalance without some form of quota. Nowhere in the article does it acknowledge that in a properly functioning democracy women should be half the representation.



Posted in 50/50 strategy, 50:50 local groups, Gender Politics, Irish political parties, Irish politicians, Local Government elections, Media, Men supporting 50:50, Quota Bill | Leave a comment

Caroline Fleming – Rest in Peace

We in the 5050 Group were truly shocked to hear the very sad news that Caroline has passed away.

Caroline was a gem.  She was committed and passionate about everything she set her mind to. She was an intelligent woman with a great sense of humour. Above all she was a rock of sense.  Even with her illness she remained extremely positive – she maintained that the doctors could look after the physical side of her life and she would look after her mind.

She was chair of the 5050 group in Kerry and did Trojan work to highlight the under-representation of women in Irish politics.  Even when she was ill, she still kept the ‘tweets’ flying. Caroline had so much energy and passion for life it is a cruel blow that she has been taken from us so prematurely. She was a real pleasure to work with and always managed to minimise the impact of her illness on her activities. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

Our deepest sympathies to her family, friends and colleagues.

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Gender Quotas – Article From Cork Evening Echo 22nd September

Women in New Zealand were the first to gain the right to vote in elections in 1893. Ireland granted women over the age of thirty the right to vote in 1918 and equal suffrage with men in 1922. By 1994 ninety four percent of countries worldwide had granted women the right to vote. This shift in thinking about the sexes was profound. However the equality agenda was not likely to happen quickly. The culture which saw men as dominant and now has to accommodate two genders was always likely to be slow to change.

Women’s under-representation in the political system, at the higher echelons of the economic system and in institutional church structures feeds into the discrimination that is still prevalent today. Women are still paid less than men. They tend to be in a small range of paid occupations which are predominantly service ones. They also tend to carry the main responsibility for domestic and child care activities.

The argument is made that the absence of descriptive groups has led to the omission of concerns which were of particular interest to that group. In elected assemblies the representation of ideology alone is not sufficient.Gender imbalance in leadership roles and especially in representative politics leads to the omission of concerns which are of particular concern to the underrepresented group. Following the General Election in 2011, the Dail was overwhelming male -85% of TDs were male (the previous Dail was 87% male).

Though not a panacea, Quotas have been shown to be the most effective mechanism for improving the numerical representation of women in parliament. They also encourage a rethinking of the issue of representation by forcing a change in attitude to the inclusion of both genders. Quotas are a blunt instrument but the potential negative impacts are outweighed by the positive impact – the political empowerment of women.

In countries where women are expected to be the primary caregivers for children and the elderly, there will be an under-representation of women in politics. Women are therefore socialised not to see themselves as competitors in the political arena. This underrepresentation constitutes a strong signal that cultural, economic, institutional and societal factors combine to unfairly limit women’s access to equal representation in public office.

The opposition to quotas varies from country to country. In France the collection of data on the ethnicity, race or religion of individuals is restricted leading to problems with women even being considered a group. In the United States, quotas are viewed as the negation of merit, unfair competition and the interference of individual freedom. By contrast African states are more accepting of different territorial, ethnic and linguistic groups being represented descriptively through quotas.

Argentina was the first country in the world to implement legislative gender quotas in the election of national legislators in 1993. Until that point internationally, gender quotas had been limited to intraparty rules in other countries. The impact in Argentina was dramatic. In the Argentine Senate, the participation of women increased from five percent in 1993 to forty four percent by 2005.

The effectiveness of quota legislation has varied, however. Quotas are considered to be positive in principle where the targeted quota legislation is likely to be effective. Some countries have not found it necessary to implement legislative gender quotas in order to improve the representation of women, for example Denmark. Political party voluntary gender quotas have been successful in other countries, for example Sweden. However most countries that seek to increase the representation of women in politics use some form of quota.

There are different reasons for quota legislation being effective. The most effective quota laws contain several key features – a high minimum percentage of women candidates, application to all legislative seats, larger electoral districts and adequate enforcement of compliance. Quota legislation that is likely to be effective is positive.

Quota legislation that is likely to be ineffective has negative outcomes. This is because it allows the establishment to claim to have supported legislation to enhance women’s representation and to continue to resist a rebalancing. It also weakens those that have supported the quota legislation. These are likely to have been feminist and indeed female proponents. They are then placed in the position of having to explain the quotas failure to their constituents.

Quotas can promote the perception that candidates are not being elected on merit. In the political domain being part of a political family dynasty, money and established networks are just some of the advantages that can make candidates more successful than others. There is also a denial that high-ability women are not being lost to leadership positions.

Viewing groups as being a homogenous unit is a problem with promoting the use of quotas. Firstly it essentialises ‘women’. This means that the category ‘women’ comes to be understood as a homogenous group all fulfilling the same characteristics. This is clearly false.

Secondly it excludes all those that do not fall into this category – namely men. There can be the idea that in seeking to redress the imbalance in numbers for women that men somehow do not have any difficulties. This is also clearly untrue.

Thirdly when arguing for a greater number of women in politics the assumption is made that the characteristics which some women display will automatically be transferred. This is also not necessarily the experience. For example, women can be seen as being empathetic and therefore the assumption is that all women are empathetic. Conversely men can be seen as not being empathetic.

Adding women does not lead to automatic outcomes. The simplistic view that more women will lead to a more egalitarian society is naïve. The assumption that by increasing the numbers of women in political office will automatically lead to a feminist position on polices is false. Political ideas vary amongst women in the same way as they vary amongst men.

The Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012 which has been enacted in Ireland seeks to encourage all parties in receipt of public funding to field at least thirty percent of candidates of either gender in the next general election. It is to be at least forty percent in subsequent general elections. With this form of quota all political ideologies are being encouraged to pay attention to the gender of the candidates that they select. The political hue of the candidates elected is a decision for the electorate. Quotas are simply a means of levelling the political playing field for women.


Posted in 50/50 strategy, 50:50 local groups, Constitutional Convention, European politicians, Gender Politics, Irish political parties, Irish politicians, Local Government elections, Men supporting 50:50, Quota Bill, Successful women, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fianna Fail Thinks about Gender Balance at Think-In

It is encouraging that Fianna Fail seem to have gotten serious about the dearth of women elected to their party…..

Read on

Markievicz Commission

Averil Power

Where are the Women

Posted in 50/50 strategy, 50:50 local groups, Irish political parties, Irish politicians, Local Government elections, Quota Bill, Successful women, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Female commissioners call for gender equality in new Commission

The Education Commissioner urged President Jean-Claude Juncker to appoint at least 10 women in his future new team. Currently, 9 out of 28 commissioners are women.

“We are now in the course of drafting a letter to be signed by all female commissioners addressed to the President Jean-Claude Juncker asking him to appoint at least 10 women in the next Commission I think this will be great for the new Commission.” said EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou.

In an attempt to persuade national governments, Juncker promised to reward countries who appoint female candidates with a big portfolio or vice-presidency.

“The female Commissioners are very worried that the next Commission may not have sufficient number of women.” Vassiliou added.

President-Juncker will start discussions with governments on future commissioners and the distribution of portfolios.

Italy’s Foreign Minister Frederica Mogherini will replace Catherine Ashton as the EU’s head of foreign affairs while Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk will be the new president of the European Council.

Posted in 50/50 strategy, EU developments, European politicians, Gender Politics, International Comparisons, Irish politicians, Men supporting 50:50, Successful women, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Presence of Women Increases in Cabinet

The recent Cabinet reshuffle saw the representation of women increase by one. There were three women at the Cabinet table before the reshuffle – Frances Fitzgerald (FG, Minister for Justice and Equality), Joan Burton (Lab, Minister for Social Protection ) and Jan O Sullivan (Lab -Super Junior Minister for Housing). The number has been increased with the appointment of Heather Humphreys (FG) to the Ministry of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Jan O Sullivan now moves to Education with Joan Burton remaining in Social Protection. It is a small increase but at least it is in the right direction. 5050 by 2020 edges closer and closer….

Posted in 50/50 strategy, 50:50 local groups, Irish political parties, Irish politicians, Men supporting 50:50, Quota Bill, Successful women | Leave a comment

Support for Women’s Networks

Our National Chair Noirin Clancy recently contacted the Minister for the Department of the Environment. She writes as follows:

On behalf of the 50:50 Group, we wish to raise our serious concerns regarding the withdrawal of funding to the Women’s Networks.

As part of our 50:50 campaign for equal representation in Irish politics, we work closely with several networks.  In the recent Local Elections, many played a significant role in supporting women candidates and in raising awareness of the importance of addressing the gender imbalance in politics.  Seminars were organised and attended by women who subsequently ran as candidates and succeeded in getting elected. Without the presence of Women’s Networks at local level, who have the capacity to mobilise and organise, such events would not have happened.

The Government has played a key leadership role in passing gender quota legislation. However, to ensure implementation additional supports are necessary to encourage women to go into politics and to challenge the structural and cultural barriers.  As illustrated above, Women’s Networks are ideally placed to provide such supports and we believe their work certainly contributed to the 5% increase in the number of female councillors elected.

In the proposed new programme (SICAP) it is of serious concern that women are not named as a target group.  Furthermore, the National Collective of Community Based Women’s Networks is not permitted to tender for the contract to ensure continuation of the vital services delivered by the 17 Networks.

While significant gains have been made with regard to gender equality in Ireland, we still have a long way to go to achieve de facto gender equality. The Government committed to implementing the National Women’s Strategy (2007-16) which aims to bring about ‘an Ireland where all women enjoy equality equally with men and can achieve their full potential while enjoying a safe and fulfilling life’.   Women’s Networks can continue to play a significant role in working with Government, and national organisations like our own, to realise this vision.

We urge you, Minister, to keep the current national programme in place and ring fence the €1.3m for the 17 Women’s Networks. If the Programme is discontinued it will represent a serious setback for the advancement of women’s rights in Ireland and call into question the Government’s commitments, at national and international levels, in this regard.



Posted in 50/50 strategy, 50:50 local groups, Gender Politics, Irish political parties, Irish politicians, Local Government elections, Men supporting 50:50, Quota Bill, Successful women, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

First Woman Leader of the Irish Labour Party

Congratulations to Joan Burton who was elected the first woman leader of the Irish Labour Party last Friday 4th July 2014. It is the first time in its 102 year history that the Irish Labour Party has a female leader. She has now been confirmed as Tanaiste although she is not the first woman to hold that office. Mary Harney (Progressive Democrats) holds that honour. Mary Coughlan (Fianna Fail) has also held the post.

It is encouraging that these small steps are moving the country towards a more gendered balanced political system. However with the nearly all male banking enquiry we do have some way to go……..

Posted in 50/50 strategy, 50:50 local groups, Gender Politics, History, Irish political parties, Irish politicians, Successful women | Leave a comment

Chelsea Clinton Gives Good Advice

Chelsea Clinton was in Dublin yesterday and gave some good advice on how to handle criticism. She also talked about her experience of being included as a child to develop her ideas and opinions. Read it here

Chelsea Clinton’s Advice

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