Over 400 people attended last week's ‘How to elect more women?’ conference in Dublin to discuss the Irish government's proposed legislation bringing in quotas for women and men candidates at the next general election.
Next month the Dáil will start to debate the Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Bill 2011, which includes a clause saying that political parties will face a cut of half their State political funding if they do not have at least 30% women and 30% men candidates at the next General election. This will rise to 40% after 7 years.
The keynote speaker at the conference was CFWD's Director, Nan Sloane, but it was also addressed by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, by the leaders and general secretaries of the main political parties, and by Madame Nicole Ameline, the deputy chair of the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
The event was heavily oversubscribed, and there was clearly a great deal of interest in the government's proposals. These will begin to be debated in the Irish Parliament (the Dail) next month, and already some parties are discussing the possibility of increasing the scope of the provisions either to increase the level to 40% immediately, or to include the 2014 local elections, or both.
Ireland is currently at the bottom of the western European league table, with just 15% women in the Dail. France has 19% and Italy 21%, with the UK, at 22%, just above them.
CFWD will be monitoring the Bill's progress through the legislative process, and will be highlighting any relevant amendments.