The 50-50 Group Seeking Equal Political Representation

50 per cent of Ireland’s population is female. Yet, little over 22 per cent of the Dáil consists of women. This places Ireland 82nd (out of 189 ranked positions) on a world classification list compiled by the Inter- Parliamentary Union (2017)[1].

Our Vision of Change

Gender parity in Irish politics

 Who we are?

  • The 50-50 Group is a single issue national advocacy group dedicated to achieving equal representation in Irish politics.
  • The 50-50 Group is a fully inclusive organisation and politically non-aligned provided parties support gender equality.
  • The 50-50 Group welcomes both men and women as members.
  • The 50-50 Group endorses both male and female candidates who support measures to redress the under-representation of women in the Irish Parliament (Oireachtas).
  • The 50-50 Group believes that the under-representation of women in Irish politics is an affront to the democratic ideals of justice and equality.

 What we do?

  • Advocate for the implementation of measures to redress the gender imbalance of Irish politics.
  • Support the Candidate Selection Gender Quota legislation adopted by the Oireachtas in 2012. This requires all political parties in receipt of state funding to select at least 30% women candidates and 30% male candidates. This was recommended by the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Women in Politics which reported in November 2009.
  • Lobby to extend the legislative gender quota to Local Elections by amending the Electoral Act 1997, Art 17 Sec 3, to allocate state funding to qualified parties based on their first preference vote at the preceding general electionand the preceding local election (e.g. 60-40 split). This would allow for a minimum 30% gender quota for the 2019 local elections and 40% for the 2024 local elections.

 Why gender quotas for local elections?

  • Analysis of Irish elections reveals that previ­ous experience in local office is a key springboard to higher office for both men and women[2].
  • However, few women have an opportunity to harness their local office experience and associated skills (such as building local networks and enhancing name recognition) as men are over-represented in Irish local government. Currently men make up 79% of local councillors.
  • Not all political parties are successful in meeting voluntary gender targets. For the 2014 local elections, neither Fianna Fáil nor Fine Gael reached their self-imposed voluntary gender quotas of 33% and 25% respectively[3].
  • International research shows that the adoption of electoral gender quotas is associated with increases in the overall quality of female and male politicians elected and those women elected via a gender quota are no less qualified than their non-quota colleagues[4].

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[1] (accessed 8 November 2017)

[2] Fiona Buckley, Mack Mariani, Claire McGing, and Timothy J. White (2015) ‘Is Local Office a Spring­board for Women to Dáil Éireann?’ Journal of Women, Politics and Policy Vol.36, No.3, pp. 311–35.

[3] Just 17% of Fianna Fáil’s candidates were women. The corresponding proportion for Fine Gael was 23%.

[4] For example see: Paulo Júlio and José Tavares (2017) ‘The Good, the Bad and the Different: Can Gender Quotas Raise the Quality of Politicians?’ Economica, Vol 84, No 335, pp. 454–479 and Allen, Peter; David Cutts and Rosie Campbell (2016) ‘Measuring the quality of politicians elected via gender quotas – are they any different?’ Political Studies, Vol. 64, No 1, pp.143-163



Do some Women ‘Choose’ to Remain/Become Subservient to their Men?

I have watched the first two episodes of the TV programme ‘The State’ on Channel 4 television. The violence and brutality I find hard to watch. However I have persevered and what intrigues me is why emancipated women would choose to become subservient to their man?

The history of female emancipation in western culture has continued for over 200 years. The beginnings of that struggle has been dated from the publication of Mary Wollstonecroft’s ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ in 1792. This was a reaction to the legal reality  that a single women had little protection under the law, and married women lost their legal identity upon marriage. Women couldn’t retain a lawyer, sign a contract, inherit property, vote, or have rights over their children.

“The husband and wife are one person in law; that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband: under whose wing, protection and cover, she performs every thing.” This was written by Oxford law professor William Blackstone in his influential Commentaries on the Laws of England  in 1758.

In Ireland the beginnings of the right to vote for some women started in 1898.

‘The story of women’s participation in local government dates back to the late nineteenth century and the passage of the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898. Under this Act, women were granted the right to vote and stand in election for the first time. As Crossman (1994) notes in her book Local Government in Nineteenth-Century Ireland, local government was the scene for some early successes by the Irish suffragist movement, with the first elections in 1899 returning thirty-one women district councillors and eighty-five women as poor law guardians’. Crossman, V. (1994). Local government in nineteenth-century Ireland. Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies.

Whilst some women (and men) have had the right to vote in local elections in Ireland since that time, power in Irish elected politics has remained to a major extent the domain of men. The 5050 group has campaigned, through the use of candidate quotas, to redress that gender imbalance. In the main I have not encountered the attitude that women are inferior to men. However having watched this TV programme I am wondering what motivates an emancipated women to seek to become subservient to their men? Perhaps I am being naive about the push back that occurs, with some women seeking to reverse, what is considered to be a human right for all women?