LW welcomes Dail debate on increasing women's political representation

21 March 2012

Today the Dail will debate the Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Bill, which seeks to address the under-representation of women in politics by reducing the public funding of political parties, which fail to run a minimum percentage of candidates of either gender.

"The barriers to women entering politics have been identified as the '5 C's' : Cash, Caring duties, Confidence, Culture and Candidate selection procedures. This analysis is supported by the results of the CSO study published earlier this year which show that women earned 73% of men's average salary in 2009. When adjusted for women working shorter hours they earned only 94% of men's salary, notwithstanding higher education and qualifications.

"Although better educated, women are less likely to be in the labour force and are less well represented in senior positions. More than half a million women in 2011 were looking after home/family compared with only 9,600 men while 90% of lone parents are female.

"It is clear that the still quite gendered lives of men and women continue to make accessing politics a different experience for men and women. In order to comply with the Government Bill political parties will have to not only address the way in which they carry out candidate selection but put in place strategies to attract more women to run for political office and provide the supports necessary to overcome the barriers.

"Labour Deputy Colm Keaveney, who will be speaking in the Dail today has rightly pointed out that, "The issue is not that the electorate does not vote for women. The issue is that there are not enough female candidates. In the last election voters in Cork South-West, Kildare South, Limerick and Roscommon-South Leitrim were presented with an all-male ballot paper".

"Our electorate often has little choice in voting for women because the political parties do not run enough women. This Bill will change that. Labour Women welcomes the historic debate in the Dail as a crucial step in this process."


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