I believe a major contributory element to this whole sorry and tragic story is the abiding gender imbalance in places of power and in the professions.
Listening to the discussions and debates and following the controversy in the volumes of print it became blindingly obvious to me that women of all political/ideological persuasions and none understood immediately the life and death nature of the CervicalCheck fiasco. Meanwhile many men continued to play politics with it.
I found myself moving from anger to despondence as I contemplated how the absence of women in high places and the paucity of a woman's perspective at all levels is impoverishing us individually and collectively and at its worst is causing women to die.
The eradication of gender equality has to be an urgent priority for us as a society. It has been crystal clear from the various debates on the CervicalCheck issue. In the Dáil, at the Dáil committees and on the range of radio and TV panels men were only 'sort of' getting this but women had it all from the start, and why wouldn't they?
This scandal should be a crucial lesson to us as a society that we need a seismic shift in the promotion of gender equality.
Starting with political representation we also need to have gender quotas imposed across the civil service, state boards, semi-state boards, sporting bodies, the professions, the lot.
In fact, it might be an idea to develop a type of BER rating for gender equality. Such a rating would be applied to organisations, public bodies, associations, corporations and companies when it comes to awarding public contracts, public funding, grant-aid or the like. The gender equality rating (GER) of applicants would have a key bearing on success or failure.
Perhaps this rating could be introduced into the tax code, indeed our beloved corporation tax rate could be graded according to the gender equality credentials of the relevant corporations.
It is clear from the more successful public initiatives introduced over the years that in order to change behaviour goodwill on its own doesn't achieve much; legislation, sanction and reward are also needed.
As cases in point the smoking ban, the plastic bag levy and the imposition of higher road tax on vehicles with higher emissions resulted in an improvement in public health and the environment. Goodwill backed by legislation and sanction did this.
Over the weekend there was some government recognition of the need for urgent action on gender inequality with the announcement that legislation is to be brought forward to address the gender pay gap.
It is hard to believe that women in Ireland continue to earn an average of 14pc less than men doing the same job. This proposed legislation will require companies of more than 250 people to publish details of any gender pay gap and employers will be subject to sanction if they fail to do so. There is no mention of a requirement to fill the pay gap but at least naming and shaming is a start.
Gender inequality such as the pay differential is continuing to have a corrosive and fundamentally undermining effect on our society. Expecting it to right itself organically has proven to be a completely false expectation.
Attitudinal change supported by legislation, sanction and reward has been proven to work.
In relation to the smoking ban and the plastic bag levy perhaps in a few decades from now young people studying the history of our times might ask their teacher 'What is a plastic bag?' or 'What is a cigarette?'. A real revolution will have happened and a better world will have dawned when young people ask their parents: "What was gender inequality, Mammy?"
As the summer comes we wonder how we lasted the winter, a winter we could have ended a long time ago.
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