Henry Gaynor (April 18) disputes the necessity and justification for Gender Quotas in our Elections. He does this by asking some very intelligent and searching questions; are women interested, if they are what’s keeping them back, where will they find the time, will they not lose some credibility if part of a quota and what happens to the men affected by quotas? Fortunately there is research on this topic so we know why since 1801, Kerry has only ever sent four women to represent our interests in London and more recently Dublin.
Simply put, women are prevented from enjoying the same level of success as men in the political world, because the system as it is now, was designed by men, for men and continues to be dominated by men. This may be the 21st Century, but when family commitments involve caring for children, elderly parents or sick relations, the responsibility still falls mostly on women. A fact made worse by the ridiculous hours politicians have allowed become the norm for their profession. Knocking on doors on a Monday, sitting in Dublin on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, followed by Clinics on a Friday means a woman (and in a civilised country, a man) with a young family, cannot hope to have her talents as a public representative, used at a national level.
This anti-family system has led to many women, not only shying away from participating in Party politics, it has became the norm to think women are uninterested and/or incapable of competing in the Political Arena. This notion has been around for so long now, that even many women have begun to think it is true. This despite the fact that almost every organisation; voluntary, religious, charitable, political, sporting etc, relies almost entirely for their continued existence on the energy, wit and enthusiasm of women.
How do we change this culture? How do we instill confidence, make up for the lack of cash, address the inequality of caring responsibilities? We’ve two choices. We can continue as we are, which is a valid option but it has been estimated that it will take at least three centuries, at the present rate of progress, for us to have a Dáil that truly represents the men and woman of this nation.
Or the second option, which is Politicians so reforming their profession, that a woman from Kerry, with the talent to best promote the interests of Kerry people, is not prevented from doing so, just because as she is putting her children to bed at 8pm, her less talented Party colleague is happily pandering to any and all enquiries at any time of the day or night. This reform can only be undertaken by politicians. Only politicians can change their operating procedures. And a first step in this transformation is to give the politicians a bit of a shove. Encourage them to find enough women to add to the ballot papers, so that the choice of the voter is enhanced. This is not so we can have token women in the Dáil. No, it is so that there are enough women in the Dáil that they will finish the job of transforming Irish politics to the extent that quotas are never again needed.
We all pay for the politicians and we all pay for the Political Parties so I don’t think it is expecting too much of them, to at least try to give everyone a fair go at trying for the responsibility of governing.