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The Adoption of Legislative Gender Quotas in the Republic of Ireland Fiona Buckley University College Cork Co-founder, The 5050 Group.

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Presentation on theme: "The Adoption of Legislative Gender Quotas in the Republic of Ireland Fiona Buckley University College Cork Co-founder, The 5050 Group."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Adoption of Legislative Gender Quotas in the Republic of Ireland Fiona Buckley University College Cork Co-founder, The 5050 Group Web: Email: Twitter: Presentation to Women and Constitutional Futures: Gender equality matters in a new Scotland Conference Royal Society of Edinburgh 14 th February 2013

2 Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012 30% gender quota – Ensure 30% women and 30% men candidates on the ballot paper at next general election A candidate selection quota Quota to rise to 40% seven years thereafter Sanction: parties lose half of their State funding is they do not meet quota requirement

3 Women’s political representation in ROI: The facts! “Irish political culture remains embarrassing because of its maleness and the contempt it continues to show towards women” (Diarmuid Ferriter: 2011) Dáil Only 25 of 166 Dáil seats held by women (15.25%). Only 91 women have been elected to serve in Dáil Éireann since the foundation of the State. Of the total 4744 Dáil seats filled since 1918, only 260 (5.48%) have been occupied by women. Of the 181 people who have served in cabinet in Ireland since 1922, only 12 (7%) have been women. Seanad (Senate) Only 86 women have ever served in the Seanad. Seanad - 18 of the 60 seats (30%) are held by women. Comparative Context Ireland occupies 91 st ranked position out of 133 nation-states in IPU rankings 23 rd place amongst the 27 EU member states Ireland falls behind both the world average (19.5%) and EU average (24%) for women’s political representation. Local Government Women account for 17% of the members of local authorities and just 12% of the members of regional authorities. General Election 2011 Only eighty-six women out of a total of 564 candidates contested the 2011 General Election In 21 of the 43 constituencies there are no women TDs. National Women’s Council of Ireland - 370 years until gender parity in political representation in Ireland.

4 % Women and Men Parliamentary Representation (EU27)

5 Women’s Participation in Politics Parliamentary Committee ‘The Bacik Report’ 2009 Candidate selection ≈ Gender Quotas Cash ≈ Targeted Funding Confidence ≈ Role model effects; Education, mentoring & training (e.g. Women for Election) Care ≈ better childcare facilities; paternity leave; maternity leave; Culture ≈ need to fix other Cs to see cultural change; awareness campaigns; gendering parliament (Meier, 2009)

6 Advocacy group dedicated to achieving equal representation in Irish politics Fully inclusive and politically non-aligned Voluntary & grassroots movement Lobby for the implementation of special measures (quotas) to increase the number of women on the ballot paper; – Give more women the opportunity to get onto the ballot paper thus providing voters with greater choice Build general awareness of the importance of redressing the balance of representation of women in Irish politics Identify and support women candidates Future Watchdog role? What does the 5050 Group do?

7 ‘Velvet Triangle’ (Alison Woodward, 2004) Policy Makers Civil SocietyAcademia

8 Lessons learned from the Republic of Ireland Never waste a good crisis! – Economic/financial crisis (system shock) has resulted in calls for ‘political reform’ Get out there and get active! – Women’s mobilisation does work Support from male elites Gender quotas seen as are a strategic measure – Meeting election promises on political reform Legislation required to change behaviour of political parties (the gatekeepers) – Party level ‘soft targets’ have been tried but failed due to lack of strong party leadership & commitment (political will) on promoting women’s political representation – Of the €12.3 million the four main parties drew down from the Exchequer in 2011, just 0.63% was spent on measures to promote the participation of women

9 The number of additional women candidates the five main parties would need to field to meet a 30% gender quota Figures based on 2011 General Election Party2011 women candidates (No.) 2011 women candidates (%) Additional number of women needed to reach 30% quota Fianna Fáil1115+12 women candidates Fine Gael1615 + 15 women candidates Labour1826 + 2 women candidates Sinn Féin820 + 4 women candidates Green Party819+ 5 women candidates 9

10 Implications for party state funding if 30% gender quota is not achieved (Buckley, 2012) PartyFunding received under the Party Leaders Allowance for 2011 Funding received under the Electoral Acts for 2011 Total Exchequer funding for 2011 If reduced by 50% as a result of a 30% gender quota in 2011* €€€€ Fine Gael2,579,0302,173,1724,752,2022,376,101 Labour1,634,6071,191,9782,826,5851,413,292 Fianna Fáil1,746,501 1,345,3173,091,8181,545,909 Sinn Féin933,875685,5371,619,412809,706 Green Party75,58357,387132,970- People Before Profit 120,9030 - Socialist Party120,9030 - Total7,211,4025,453,39112,664,7936,740,374 Source: Standards in Public Office Commission (2012) -,15693,en.htm,15693,en.htm * State funding is based on the party vote in the most recent general election, so these figures are based on 2011 results and are hence accurate for that election.

11 Challenges Ahead for Implementation of Gender Quotas in the ROI No gender quota for local elections Who will monitor candidate selection? – How do you prevent parties from selecting women candidates in ‘non- traditional’ strongholds? Will this simply re-enforce the ‘tokenism’ argument? Will there be resentment from ‘local’ party and male candidates? Will the recently announced reduction in Dáil seats (down from 166 to 158) make the implementation of the gender quota even more difficult (less opportunity space)? Manage expectations – Women elected following the introduction of gender quotas elsewhere felt pressure to ‘produce the goods’; ‘to be different’; ‘to change the system’ Get real, it won’t happen overnight!

12 “A society that is without the voice and vision of a woman is not less feminine. It is less human” (Mary Robinson) Politics is a tough job, but women are as able as men to do it Gender quotas provide an opportunity structure to facilitate women’s electoral candidacy – access to the ballot paper – change political parties candidate selection procedures Gender quotas provide voters with greater electoral choice – (i) option to choose between men and women; – (ii) between women of different parties If not quotas, what is the alternative? If not now, when? Final Thoughts!

13 Contact the 5050 Group Email:

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