Saturday 24 February 2018

'Feminist' Varadkar sets target of 20 female TDs for Fine Gael

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during a press conference at Farmleigh House in Dublin
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during a press conference at Farmleigh House in Dublin
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Leo Varadkar has set a target of increasing Fine Gael's female representation in the Dáil to 20, after declaring himself a feminist.

The new Taoiseach has been heavily criticised for appointing a ministerial team consisting of 25 men and just seven women. By comparison, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Cabinet has a 50-50 gender balance.

During their bilateral meeting yesterday, Mr Trudeau briefed his counterpart on how he encouraged more women into politics.

"When you ask a woman if she'll step forward and run, her first question is really, 'Do you think I should, do you think I can, am I qualified enough?' When you ask a man to run for politics, his first question is 'well what took you so long to ask me?'" he said.

Mr Trudeau added: "Getting more women into positions of power and authority and success is not just the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do and that's something we both agreed on."

Mr Varadkar, who this week donated €200 to the 'Women for Election' campaign, has just 11 female TDs in his party. "I want it to be much higher. I'd like it to be 50-50 but certainly at least 20 after the next general election, thus giving me more scope to promote even more women than are promoted already.

"That's very much the space I want to be in," he said.

Asked whether he considers himself a feminist, Mr Varadkar replied: "Certainly, if feminism is defined as supporting equal opportunity between men and women, which I do, then I consider myself a feminist but I totally accept that other people may have a different definition."

Irish Independent

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