'Family-proofing' to help women run for councils
'Family-proofing' the times and duration of council meetings and financially incentivising political parties to run more female candidates are just two measures being introduced to encourage more women to enter local politics.
Such measures are required as only 21pc of local elected representatives in Ireland are female, significantly less than the EU average of 32pc. The problem is worse in rural areas.
"In the 2014 local elections, only 21pc of those elected were women, placing Ireland well below the EU28 average of 32pc for female representation in local politics. In some local councils, particularly in rural areas, women have a significantly lower representation," Minister Eoghan Murphy said.
Minsters Mr Murphy and John Paul Phelan announced the measures last night, saying they were agreed at a special Cabinet meeting on Friday to mark International Women's Day.
The measures include a new funding scheme being introduced for this year's local elections. It will provide funding to political parties that achieve a minimum of 30pc female candidates.
A public information campaign will be launched that will highlight the critical role of women on local councils. It will reference the 120th anniversary of Ireland's first local elections and female 'champions' will be encouraged to take part.
A third measure will specifically target supports for female councillors with young children.
To this end, they are adopting the approach used by Dublin City Council, which has a Parent (or Caring) Support Group, which comprises of a number of elected members.
Such a group will be established in all local authorities and will be tasked with drafting council policy on parental/caring support and family friendly measures to be endorsed by the council, such as childcare access and 'family-proofing' the times and duration of council meetings.
Another measure will focus on supporting female candidates in rural areas, with the funding provided to Women For Election contingent on some training and capacity building events held outside the main urban centres. Workshops and networking events for women in these areas will also be organised.