We believe that by training, mentoring and supporting women across Ireland we can achieve 50% female representation in Irish politics.
The General Election in February 2016 was an important step towards achieving gender equality in Dáil Éireann. 35 women were elected as Members of the 32nd Dáil, an all- time high, 1 in 5 TDs is now a woman. This is a significant increase on the results of the 2011 General Election when just 25 women were elected to the 31st Dáil. Now, with women making up 22% of the 32nd Dáil Ireland ranks 75th in the world, which is both a cause for celebration and a reminder that we still have work to do.
To bring about real and lasting change the root problems holding women back from achieving equality in political life – the 5 Cs – must be addressed. Women for Election tackles each of these barriers, as outlined below, so as to flood the system with capable, competent, supported women, ready and willing to run for political office.
Confidence: Women for Election:
- Provides cross-party programmes focused on preparing female candidates for selection and election
- Increases the supply of capable, confident, prepared women; ready and supported to put their names on the ballot paper
- Provides access to a cross-party network of political women, committed to providing support, advice and resources to female candidates
Cash: Women for Election:
- Supports women to develop their fundraising abilities and unlock the value in their own networks
- Runs a sustained campaign to encourage women to give to women for political campaigns
- Provides access to potential campaign donors through our cross-party network of political women
- Hosts a fundraising event in each election year for Women for Election alumni candidates
Candidate Selection: Women for Election:
- Recruits high potential women participants for our programmes from political parties, county councils, trade unions, women’s network organisations (spanning NGO and business) and profile them as potential candidates
- Supports the full implementation of quota legislation in partnership with other interest groups (NWCI, 50:50 group)
- Increases the supply of capable, confident, prepared women; ready to come forward and fill party level quotas
Culture: Women for Election:
- Increases the number of women candidates, who will serve as role models for current and future generations of women
- Maintains a database of Women for Election alumni and encourage alumni to put themselves forward as candidates
- Applies learning from organisations in other jurisdictions that have successfully employed training and support programmes to increase the number of women running for office, including in Northern Ireland and the USA
Childcare: Women for Election:
- Will indirectly address the childcare barrier: international evidence shows that increasing the number of women in elected positions leads to greater focus on legislative and policy issues that are considered ‘women’s rights’ issues, including childcare
- Tailored programmes of support to inspire, equip and inform women to run for political office
- Cross party network of political women committed to equal representation of women and men in Irish politics
- Advocacy and campaigning focused on increasing the number of women in Irish politics
Evidence shows that to bring about real change a combination of hard measures (quotas) and additional
supports, including mentoring and training programmes and women’s political networks, is required.
Women for Election will increase the number of women running for election by making sure political parties have competent, prepared female candidates putting themselves forward for selection. Our three-year plan outlines how we will work with political parties and groupings to identify potential candidates, and how we will extend our recruitment drive to include women in leadership roles beyond politics; from trade unions, business networks, community groups, NGOs and universities.
Our ‘Inspire, Equip, Inform’ core programmes provides high quality political training focused on supporting women to win. Our training is delivered by a variety of experts and will cover all aspects of political campaigns, including building committed campaign teams, effective planning and administration, fundraising and budgeting, message development, presentation skills and managing the media.
NETWORK OF POLITICAL WOMEN
Each participant has access to ongoing support, formal (webinars, alumni events) and informal (peer support, advice), to guide them in their decision to run for office and ultimately in organising their election campaign.
Women for Election works in partnership with other groups in this space to promote the concept of gender balance in elections and ultimately in Councils, the Dáil and Europe. We use data, gathered and shared by academics supportive of our mission, to monitor the candidacy and selection of women at convention stage.
HOW DO WE KNOW OUR APPROACH WORKS?
Since we began work in 2012 we have trained over 1000 women from all around Ireland and across 18 EU member states. In 2014 there was a 30% increase in the number of women who ran in the Local Elections compared to in 2009, and there was a 21% increase in the number of women elected – 194 women are now local political representatives, 50% of whom have been trained by Women for Election.
At a European level, for the first time, there are more women representatives. In 2014 6 of the 11 Members of the European Parliament elected from Ireland are women, with 2 of the 3 new female MEP’s having come through a Women for Election programme.
In the 2016 General election, 30% of candidates were female – a 100% increase compared to the 2011 General Election. 35 women were elected, 16 incumbents, and 19 for the first time. 40% of those newly elected TDS are Women for Election Alumnae.
Our approach is based on the best evidence and research from around the world; our personal experiences of navigating Ireland’s unique political landscape during the Women for Europe campaign; and market research with elected representatives and political operatives in Ireland. The 2003 Council of Europe Recommendation, supported by 47 European Governments, gives a comprehensive outline of supportive measures that are successful in increasing women’s representation in politics; including leadership training programmes, women’s political networks and a ‘data bank’ of potential women candidates. In the US, organisations including the White House Project and EMILY’s list have helped elect thousands of women at local level and hundreds at national level through tailored training and support programmes; and in Vietnam, Ethiopia and Malawi, training of female candidates is considered a key factor in increasing women’s political representation.
Women for Election will fundamentally rebalance political power in Ireland, so that women lead side by side with men, and women become better representatives, and better represented.