Childcare, lack of maternity and parental leave, unsociable meeting times are some of the barriers which have prevented female representatives from fully participating in political life. Most recently South Dublin County Councillor, Clare O’Byrne, resigned her seat citing lack of maternity leave as a key barrier. While parenting and care responsibilities are not gender neutral, in Ireland women still disproportionally hold the majority of unpaid care responsibilities.
Women for Election strongly advocate for family friendly working practices in order to create a working environment which provides equality of opportunity for aspiring and elected female politicians. In addition to standardised maternity, paternity and parental leave these practices also include the promotion of work/family life balance so that all members of Local Government can fulfil their work and family roles and duties.
Women for Election was honoured to be asked by the Ceann Comhairle to participate in the Oireachtas Forum on a Family Friendly and Inclusive Parliament. Our Chairperson Alison Cowzer represents us on this Forum.
The aim of the Forum is “to facilitate the Houses of the Oireachtas’ ongoing development as a family friendly parliamentary community that responds to the needs and interests of both men and women in its composition, structures, operations, methods and work and as an inclusive parliamentary community that better reflects society in Ireland.
The Forum will offer advice and recommendations to the Ceann Comhairle, who will bring the Forum’s report to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission for its consideration.
The Forum shall consider and make practical recommendations on:
(i) making the Houses of the Oireachtas a more inclusive, family friendly, and gender- sensitive workplace for the parliamentary community;
(ii) ensuring that the Houses of the Oireachtas are supported and resourced to take account of gender and equality issues when legislating;
(iii) improving the diversity of the parliamentary community to better reflect society in Ireland.
We were delighted to present to the Forum in July 2021 and we look forward to further assisting the Forum to help ensure that the voices and insights of the many women we work with are reflected in the Forum’s recommendations.
For Terms of Reference for the Forum click here
Download our recent submission to the Forum