News Elections

Thursday 18 September 2014

Dr Theresa Reidy: Women win the day

Analysis why women were successful

Published 25/05/2014 | 15:49

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T HAS has been a very successful election for women candidates and gender campaigners will be pleased to see so many women taking up political office.

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Groups such as 50 50 and Women for Election have been campaigning for gender quotas and providing training for women candidates over the last few years.

The success of so many women candidates this weekend proves what campaign groups and academic research has been saying all along, there is little gender bias among Irish voters, they were just not offered women to vote for on ballot papers.

When the number of women on the ballot increased, the number of women elected increased. Some very interesting work on gender in Irish politics is available from Irish Political Studies here http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/fips20/28/3#.U4Hxi3JSjTo

There is still a long way to go but these elections bring important improvements on the road to more equal representation in political life in Ireland.

The by-elections have returned two female TDs and the Dail will now have one additional woman with Ruth Coppinger replacing Patrick Nulty and Gabrielle McFadden replacing her sister Nicky McFadden in Longford Westmeath. 

Sixteen per cent of councillors elected in 2009 were women and on present figures, well over 20 per cent of councillors elected in 2014 will be women.

Dr Adrian Kavanagh of NUIM has some interesting figures on his blog where he is reporting that 32 per cent of votes cast in Dublin were for female candidates and in some areas 4 out of six councillors elected will be female

http://adriankavanaghelections.org/2014/05/24/trends-observed-during-the-elections-counts-may-24th-25th-2014/ In the Kildare Newbridge LEA, the first three candidates elected were women coming from Fianna Fail and Fine Gael and it is likely that at least one more woman will be elected later today bring the total to four out of nine seats.

The successful performance of Sinn Fein at the elections will also be significant on the gender front as just over 30 per cent of their candidates were women.

Women have tended to perform well in European Parliament elections over the years and there were often higher percentages of women elected to Europe than at any level in the domestic political system.

That trend is likely to continue, three women are almost certain to be elected at this point, Sinn Fein’s Lynn Boylan and Liadh Ni Riada and Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness.

Deirdre Clune is likely to take a second seat for Fine Gael in Ireland South and there are several more women candidates in with a fighting chance to take a seat.

Mary Fitzpatrick of Fianna Fail and Independent Nessa Childers are still in the fray in Dublin and Marian Harkin retains an outside chance in Midlands North West.

With some small measures by government and major effort by campaign groups, gender balance in Irish politics is slowly starting to improve.

* Dr Theresa Reidy is a lecturer in the Department of Government at UCC

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