The 5050 group were delighted to attend the conference in UCC on the 28th November 2016 on the impact of the Gender Quotas on the 2016 GE. There was a terrific line up of speakers and they did not disappoint.
In the morning session we heard about the complexity of our electoral system and the extent to which the political parties are the main gate keepers to whom the electorate can choose. We are used to geographical quotas with constituencies and therefore quotas are not completely new. The gender quota is an important addition.
Polling after the GE found that the majority of voters were in favour of gender quotas if it meant adding a greater gender balance to the ballot paper.
In the afternoon we heard from the courageous people who were willing to put themselves forward for election. Some got through and some did not. They spoke very candidly about how difficult it was being the first election in which the quotas applied and the fallout from that. Making that experience a less difficult one is an ambition for the future. If democracy is to flourish then standing as a candidate should not be a traumatic experience.
Well done to everyone involved and a special thank you to 5050 member Dr Fiona Buckley for being the inspiration for the conference.