The recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly have signalled that the people of Ireland want to see dramatic changes in relation to gender equality-that’s according to Dr Michelle Maher, Programme Manager with SHE (See Her Elected).
The 99 members of the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality delivered 45 recommendations on Saturday and the final report of the Citizen’s Assembly on Gender Equality is expected to be presented to the Oireachtas and published in June. SHE welcomes these recommendations as a significant step forward but says it is vital this is progressed and becomes part of legislation as soon as possible.
SHE (See Her Elected) is particularly delighted to see a recommendation to extend the gender quota for party candidates at general elections to local, Seanad and European elections by the end of 2022 and to increase the current 30 per cent threshold to 40 per cent. The Assembly voted convincingly (by 88 per cent) in relation to increasing the threshold for gender quotas from 30pc to 40pc in local, Seanad and European elections which is most welcome.
The Assembly also recommends that there should be an increase in penalties for parties while they also want to make funding to public bodies contingent on reaching a 40% gender balance quota by 2025 and for gender quota legislation to be enacted that requires private companies to have at least 40% gender balance on their boards.
Dr Michelle Maher, Programme Manager with SHE (See Her Elected) said that SHE has consistently called for an increase in gender quota thresholds and for this issue to be addressed in the programme for Government.
“Women are less represented than men in government and so have less decision-making power. This is a problem, not because women necessarily have different qualities and values to men, but because gender proofing of decisions can only become the norm when the people in the room start to think about the different needs and outcomes for men and women.
For that to happen we require people in the room who experience policy decisions in different ways. This argument is also why there is a need for more diversity in politics overall.
“Gender quotas tackle deep rooted institutional obstacles to women’s participation in politics. Quotas alone are not the answer, but they are a necessary jumpstart. Bringing them in for local elections is essential for two main reasons. One, they have the capacity to bring about gender equality in our councils and it will be these council members that will make decisions and populate local committees dealing with the current Covid related crisis and its aftermath. Two, being a councillor is a recognised pipeline for election into the Dáil and decision-making power at the national level,” explained Dr Maher.
SHE also welcomes the fact that the assembly believes maternity leave should be introduced for all elected representatives.
The assembly also made very important recommendations in relation to care such as improving terms and conditions for those in paid employment as carers, including access to pensions, ensuring choice in care and independence for older persons and persons with disabilities and changes to Carers Allowance, respite, and pensions for family carers.
SHE (See Her Elected) aims to empower women in the rural constituencies of the North West and Midlands to engage in electoral politics with a specific focus on counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Longford, and Westmeath.