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Archive for August 4th, 2010

Isn’t it wonderful how the dead news zone of summer is reserved for women’s issues? First Pat Kenny magnanimously opened up his respected Friday gathering on his last show before his hols to an all female panel (in the manner of a school teacher who suspends proper learning on the last day of term in favour of frivolity and jelly and ice cream).

Now we hear news that Irish female politicians as a group (all be it a very small one in comparison to their male counterparts) are not in favour of introducing quotas to ensure a greater number of women get into power.

A very thorough article in today’s Irish Times by political correspondent Mary Minihan, found that of the 23 female TDs currently in power,

Fourteen are against and eight are for a proposal that candidate quota legislation be introduced in an attempt to bring more women into politics. One TD is undecided on the issue.

Hilariously, Green Party Minister of State for Equality, Mary White, joins the Tainiste, Mary Coughlan and Minister for health, Mary Harney in opposing the idea.

The reason our equality minister gave for opposition was,

Personally I’m not sure quotas are the way forward. Many people say to me, if a woman gets elected under a quota system does it diminish that person? That’s the last thing we want.

But as blogger, @dabarbarian tweeted,

If women don’t want more women in politics then we really are fucked.

There is a terrible Maggie Thatcheresque whiff of pulling the ladder up after them emanating from all our Mary frenimies (not counting the smarter one who wrote the article).

It is evident that waiting for the talent to rise up beyond gender discrimination has not been working very well since the founding of the republic. With only 13% of our current public representatives female how can our government properly represent the whole population of the country?

It seems relying on people to democratically elect women, while it sounds like the correct procedure, has not helped break down the barriers.

It may be the case that women don’t vote for other women, but for the politician they think can do them and their family most good. How can women get into that position without first gaining power?

We know that the so-called “feminine issues” of healthcare and education were only promoted to important political issues after women won the vote.

Previous American studies have suggested people look for a father figure politicians in times of national threat and for a more “motherly” figure in the good times.

The main issue here though, is whether introducing quotas would downgrade all women’s place and participation in main steam politics.

This March India, who have 10% female representation in their lower house, approved a women’s quota bill in their upper house. At least a third of all seats in the national parliament and state legislatures will be reserved for women.

The Irish pride themselves on being a nation of superior scholars. The term “ignorant” here has deeper connotations of disgust than in any other culture.

This is a country that implemented a blasphemy law so as not to offend religious people, yet refusing women an equal voice in power is not openly considered ignorant, even by the women who are in power.

If half the population were Asian and only 13% of parliament included Asian TD’s what would we all be saying about it? More to the point, what would the under-represented Asian TD’s and population be saying about quotas?

It brings an old Roddy Doyle quote to mind.

It seems the land once ruled by Queen Medb is still firmly under the heel of religiously implemented patriarchical power.



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