To build on the success of the positive effects of the gender quota for selection so far Women for Election have called on party leaders to make a commitment to support five practical measures that are achievable for those elected to form the next government. The five measures are:
A 50:50 cabinet would send a powerful message, reflective of the gender balance of the population of the country. It would ensure that women’s voices are at the centre of policy and political decisions over the course of the next Dáil.
Ensuring 50:50 Committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs would place female TDs in the limelight and give them a leadership and spokesperson role and serve as an encouragement to women within their parties, groupings and further afield.
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny set a clear example when he appointed over 50% of female Senators as his nominees in 2011. This precedent should be followed with a commitment of a 50:50 minimum for Taoiseach appointees to the Seanad as a means of increasing female representation in the Seanad.
For sitting Councillors who are elected to the Dáil or Seanad Éireann, parties should commit to 50:50 for newly co-opted Councillors to fill vacant seats. This will not only increase female representation at a local government level but also help to increase the pool of potential female candidates for the following Dáil election.
Parties should extend the adoption of the 30% quota for local election candidates as this is essential to create the pipeline for the next Dáil and will assist parties in reaching the 40% quota in seven years’ time as required by the gender quota for selection legislation.
As the quota for selection legislation has shown, working towards a gender balance in our national politics does require concrete action and practical measures to make any advancement. The momentum is with us and now is the time to build upon what we have achieved.