Disillusionment is very apparent in regard to female political participation. The low percentage of women in political parties is causing great concern. Especially now that there is legislation that will see same parties punished for having in some circumstances, an imbalance between males and females running when elections roll around.

There is a good number of reasons why there is not more female participation. Not just as a dad of three daughters but generally wanting to see greater balance brought to Irish politics for a long time. Other members and myself, seek to improve the issue that is lack of women in politics.

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Poor Female Representation.

women2In 2015 I co-assisted with another person, a great Drogheda woman, in the creation of a national forum to find out more about why there was not more women involved in politics. I could like many, educationally arrive at some reasons previously – one male making a educated guess – but in order to try ensure I was greater updated and more so, be accurate, when asked to participate, I jumped at the opportunity to help Ireland take another step forward in educated progress.

Up to 2016 only ninety-one women had been elected since the foundation of the state. Ireland currently has one of the worst gender balances in the democratic world.

It was again very clear from the start that there’s still a wide gender gap when one thinks about the matter, then looks at numbers. Some of the reasons why this is so, is as follows:

• Women are likely continue to be reluctant to put themselves forward as candidates or consider a political direction due to a continuing “Boys Club” behaviour, visible clique appearance and mental outlook exposed through poor words uttered and even worse attitude.

• Despite some being very qualified, others still consider themselves as not qualified enough! Male counter-parts however jump in at even lower educational levels, even if they shouldn’t!

• In parental guidance, males are more likely to be assured a political path is a viable option rather than females. This applies to formal school guidance. Sometimes in poor biased attitude.

• Many see their ability to bear children as a further hindrance to enter the field of politics. Concerns over their own child’s welfare and time away from them is a greater worry for women today, than to a male who also has offspring. More needs to be done to address an imbalance.

• Many females have witnessed others of their sex rising only on rare occasion, not on a regular basis. This imbalance alone, further has a detrimental effect on the willingness of others to go forward. They are greater reluctant to apply themselves to open opportunities, through perceived lesser chance of possible chance to progress.

• A conceptualisation of women as just child-bearers and home-makers first and foremost was rammed home to many Irish generations by agencies of the state and further more by the Roman Catholic Church operating in Ireland. For a woman in these dark 50’s/60’s eras to come forward and try going forward in a male dominated society, was very much looked down upon. This attitude still lingers amid older and out of date thinking generations and political parties.

• Timing is a greater critical factor to a chance of higher female participation. According to the 2010 Women and Men in Ireland report (CSO, 2011), they represent approximately three-quarters of those who worked up to 29 hours per week in paid employment in 2010. Many women balance work and family life by taking up part-time employment. This is felt greater restricts many when trying also to balance family life and all it entails.

• Funding problems more appear to occur more often. As also there is a balance towards greater males in some areas where top management or owners sit, females fear that their ability to garnish financial support or create their own, is greater hampered. Through own lack of resources and possibly non-willingness of others to back a greater female participation, they face, before even trying to move forward, a further hurdle that acts as a dissuasive factor, not to eventual participate.

• Ireland not just in politics had been dominated by complete male organisations. For example, be it the GAA or other Irish sporting societies that was the focal point for local communities every week or month, selections there were all male orientated. This blatant sex dominance chosen amid rural and urban communities would lead to males in turn gaining far greater social prominence. Local and national society roles where females were not as active participants, is partly due to previous lack of participation and needed access to higher one’s previous profile.

• Today even at political party headquarters, secondary roles such a filing clerks and secretarial roles are thought to be more likely filled by female workers while top positions are likely to be male filled. A visual indicator lingering on of an out of date past attitude? As long as the dominance of one sexual persuasion over the other continues in imbalanced numbers, females are less likely there alone, not emerge from a thinking atmosphere of who really always ‘rises to the top’, …why and not try gain prominent place for themselves, for their country and its people also. This too is a great pity. I firmly believe that females equally have just as much to give, if not in some cases, far more at times.

Of course all previous reasons and possible more, might be found if one looks. There has been attempts to highlight some of these matters time and time again. Each time after an initial period of sudden created activity by others to show they are trying to address such matters (when exposed they previously haven’t been), society and its divisions again fall back to old ways where effectual fair procedures don’t exist and women in general again lose out.

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Growing successes – but instigating even more.

UnitedPeople membership has a current 42%+ female member registration rate. The highest percentage of any party on the state.  We are proud of that and we want to increase those numbers. It isn’t remarkable how we did it. UP didn’t try any tricks or buy support by saying one thing (and then doing another like other parties). No, we just went out and talked to those that have real core concerns. We didn’t go out to make sure we were seen to do it – we went out to just actually just do it! Core day to day issues that affect women have been far too long dodged by elected males in the Dail and on local fronts.

UnitedPeople wishes to continue advancing every opportunity to see that female participation in Ireland politics continues to grow. However, it not good enough that we advance what might be there already – we must also instigate other more opportunities not just at national levels but right down to the local communities. Politics starts at home and that’s where UnitedPeople was born. It’s from that true core base of real issues which affect everyone, can begin to be better addressed. UnitedPeople from the start has recognised this were few others have.

If people really want change, they have to be more part of it – and in UnitedPeople, already member registered women have seen a greater possibility for their fellow sex to make things better for others more effectively. This is a path all in UnitedPeople hopes to help grow even more.

Onwards and UP!

Jeff Rudd.
Founder