Women in Politics
Recent†statistics gathered by the European Commission†in relation to women’s participation in national politics across all Member States shows that with a female participation rate of only 15 per cent following the General Election in 2011, Ireland ranks 24th of the 27 Member States in terms of women’s participation in the lower house of the national parliament.† This is well below the EU average of 24 per cent.††
It is worth noting that the top three countries, along with Belgium are the only four EU Member States where female representation in national parliament either meets or exceeds the target of 40 per cent, while representation exceeds 30 per cent in a further two Member States.
Statistics for female representation among senior Ministers, shows a marked decline on the figures for 2009 with women representing just over 13 per cent of senior Ministers in 2011, leaving Ireland ranked 22nd of the 27 Member States.† The EU average was just under 25 per cent and four Member States exceeded 40 per cent, with a further three exceeding 30 per cent of women in senior Ministerial roles.†
The Oireachtas used its cross-Party Committee structure to explore the reasons for poor female membership in the Irish Parliament in 2009 and 2010 and published two reports which identified the barriers and made recommendations to overcome them.†
Former Green Party Minister for Equality, Ms. Mary White, opened a constructive dialogue on women’s representation in Irish politics with the political parties during 2010.† Current Minister of State for Equality, Ms. Kathleen Lynch T.D. has built upon this work, including,†the organising of a Conference "How To Elect More Women"†in January 2012.