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Time for Gender Quotas for Cabinet and Local Elections

9 June 2018

Statement by Cllr Deirdre Kingston
Spokesperson for Equality

Speaking on the centenary of Lá na mBan, Labour spokesperson on Equality, and representative in Dún Laoghaire, Cllr Deirdre Kingston has echoed calls for gender quotas for the upcoming local elections but has also called on all parties to commit that at least 40% of Ministers in the next Government will be women.

Cllr Kingston said:
"Today we celebrate and remember the centenary of Lá na mBan when thousands of members of the Irish Women Workers Union marched on Dublin City Hall against conscription in World War 1.

"In recognition of that protest, and the need for the increased involvement of women in Irish public life, I am calling on all Irish political parties to commit in their next manifestos to having a least 40% women in the next Cabinet. That would mean at least 6 Ministers as women. The same commitment should apply to the ranks of Junior Ministers. Currently there are four female senior Ministers out of 15, and only 3 out of 19 junior Ministers.

"As the recent example of Spain shows, where our sister party PSOE has appointed a Cabinet where over half of the Ministers are women, there is no impediment to securing this if political parties commit to it, and Ireland should follow suit.

"The way to ensure this happens is for all parties to commit in their manifestos that a minimum of at least 40% of Ministers in any Government they form will be women.

"Parties in the next election must again ensure they run at least 30% female candidates and this will increase to 40% in time. The last election saw a record 22% of the Dáil made up of women. I will be running in the next election and hope to contribute to increasing that percentage.

"However, the reality is that decisions are made in Cabinet, and it is essential that we have more women involved.

"At our last party Conference in 2016, the Labour Party committed to a target of 40% female candidates in the 2019 local elections. Other parties should follow suit and commit to meeting a minimum of 40%.

"Unfortunately, as there is no state funding tied to the outcome of local elections, the mechanism used to bring this into force at Dáil elections isn't available, but all parties should commit to voluntarily meeting the target. Linking the general election target to local election candidate figures should also be considered in future amendments to the law and I will be pursuing this with my Labour colleagues."