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25th Feb 2016

“26 Brave Souls” – Why You Need to Vote for a Woman Tomorrow

Cassie Delaney

If current trends continue, gender parity in Irish politics will be achieved in 2265.

That’s right, if the rate of growth of women in politics continues as it has been, we’ll achieve a 50:50 gender balance in 249 years.

In the 2011 election, 26 women were elected. At 16% of the total Dáil, that was the highest representation of females ever.

So 26 women out of 166 seats.

26 “brave souls” in “The Boys’ Club”, as Mary Lou McDonald described the outgoing Dáil as last week during our first ever #HerTalks.

And while those 26 women debated economic recovery, health reform and social policy along with the other 84% of the Dáil, they also had to contend with being the only TD’s concerned with the pay gap, gender parity in high-level positions, women’s health issues, reproductive rights and maternity benefits.

That’s an awful lot for 26 representatives to deal with.

Gender parity in the Dáil is not just tokenism.

It’s not just to make the office parties more interesting.

It’s necessary to represent over 50% of the population accurately.

If we want women’s issues to be on the political agenda, we need politicians who operate from a place of understanding, experience and empathy.

And there’s a fuckload of women’s issues we need to address.

A pay gap of 13.9% exists for women in this country. That means like for like, for every euro your male counterpart earns, you’re banking approximately 86c. So what you earn in a year, a male has already pocketed by November.

That pay gap rises to 24.6% for top earners.

So despite outperforming their male peers in school and university, women generally just get a little bit fucked over.

And that’s before you even factor in the unparalleled health costs women incur. Between tampons, painkillers, contraception and over the counter treatments for female health issues, women are on average, down by €425 to €470 per year.

And then should you choose to have a child, you’ll most likely be the parent concerned about childcare, maternity leave and general workplace discrimination.

We currently rank 88th in the world for female representation in government.

We won’t achieve gender parity in this election, but we can significantly increase the amount of women in parliament. Thanks to the gender quota introduced in 2012, approximately 30% of the candidates nationally are female. On average there are 4 female candidates per constituency.

Find them, align your values with the most suitable candidate and let them represent you.

If we have women at the head of our country, that representation will filter down. We’ll naturally have more female CEO’s, more female entrepreneurs and more women in the decision-making process.

We need this election to counteract the cultural belief that women are quiet, unambitious and unsuccessful. We can achieve wage equality in this lifetime. We can repeal the 8th amendment and we can build a better society for our daughters.

So vote for a woman tomorrow. Vote for yourself, for a wage increase, for the opportunity for promotion, for your reproductive rights. Vote for equality. Vote for gender parity.

And if you do, we might achieve all of these things sooner than 2265.