An Tánaiste France Fitzgerald and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP, with Women for Election Co-Founders Michelle O’Donnell Keating and Niamh Gallagher. Photo Credit Kinlan Photography

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Women for Election are delighted to have facilitated a meeting between the First Minister of Scotland, the Right Honourable Nicola Sturgeon MSP, and female members of the Oireachtas. At a unique meeting hosted by An Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald, the women present discussed how to work together to increase women’s involvement in politics and Scottish-Irish relations. The event was hosted in Leinster House, and brought together a cross-party group of female Members of the Oireachtas.

On the invitation of Seanad Éireann, the First Minister of Scotland, the Right Honourable Nicola Sturgeon MSP will address the Seanad tomorrow, Tuesday 29thNovember. She will be the first serving Head of Government to ever do so.

2016 was a watershed moment for women in Irish politics. The percentage of female representation in Dáil Éireann increased from 16% to 22%, with 35 women elected, the highest number ever, bringing Ireland to the world average for female representation in parliaments.

The Tánaiste opened the event. Speaking about the event, the Tánaiste said:

“ The histories of Scotland and Ireland are closely intertwined and many elements of traditional culture are shared. The personal ties and economic links between our two countries are strong and of long standing. Through our joint involvement in the British-Irish Council, there are also strong political relationships and we regularly benefit from the exchange of high-level visits at Ministerial level, as well as policy exchange and cooperation at official level. In this context, First Minister Sturgeon’s visit continues a close engagement between our countries, while marking a historic first – the first occasion on which a serving Head of Government addresses Seanad Éireann”.

Following the Tánaiste’s remarks, the First Minister addressed the group. The First Minister has been a leading figure in the drive for gender equality in politics, having created a 50:50 cabinet in Scotland, and consistently promoting gender equality as a priority for her government.

Commenting about the event, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“Equality for women is at the heart of the Scottish Government’s vision for an equal Scotland. One of my first actions when taking up the post of First Minister was to appoint a gender-balanced cabinet. Since then, through initiatives such as 50/50 by 2020, over 170 organisations in Scotland have pledged to achieve gender equality on their boards and for the first time ever over half of public sector board appointees are women.

“In our parliament while we don’t yet have 5050 representation, we now have three female leaders and until recently a female presiding officer.

“Gender equality is one of the greatest economic opportunities of this century. As First Minister of Scotland it is my responsibility to look at how we as a government can accelerate progress, how we can break the barriers facing women, and how we can truly deliver an age of equality.

“I’m heartened to hear about the great work that is happening to increase female representation in Ireland. With so much talent and inspiring leadership in the room, I have no doubt that the more women we have in politics, the faster we will progress towards equality.”

After the opening remarks, the discussion was opened to the floor, with the participants sharing their own experiences as elected women. Talking about the importance of events like this, Co-Founder and Chair of Women for Election, Michelle O’Donnell Keating, said:

“We are delighted the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP once again made time for an event with Women for Election, showing her dedication to achieving gender equality in politics.

“The past year has been a phenomenal one for female representation in Irish politics. We are now looking to build on our success training women to date, by supporting women who are already elected so they excel in their roles as leaders. Successful female leaders, such as the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and An Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, inspire other women to take on leadership roles, and inspire girls throughout the world to run for political office.”

“Today was a remarkable sign of the great spirit of our female politicians, who have come together in a cross-party setting to work on developing gender equality in politics. “

“We are very grateful to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for joining us this afternoon and to An Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald for hosting the event.”


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