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10th Jun 2024

National Women’s Council calls for gender quotas after local elections

Sophie Collins


This year saw a record 677 women contest the elections representing 31% of all candidates

The National Women’s Council (NWC) today welcomed the election of women as Councillors in the recent Local Elections but expressed disappointment at the missed opportunity to achieve a 40% representation of women in Local Government. 

The NWC has called on all political parties to include a 40% gender quota for local election candidates in their party manifestos.

Rachel Coyle, Head of Campaigns and Mobilisation at NWC, praised the increased number of women running in the elections and congratulated the successful female candidates. 

“It is very positive to see women from diverse backgrounds being elected,” she said. “They will be a critical voice in Local Government.”

Despite this progress, Coyle highlighted the ongoing challenge of achieving adequate representation, and noted that women will only constitute around 26% of Councillors – the same percentage as in the previous term. 

“In 2024, we still have not broken the critical mark of at least 40% women’s representation at local level,” she said.

This year saw a record 677 women contest the elections, up from 566 in 2019, representing 31% of all candidates. 

“They will be a critical voice in Local Government.”

Coyle acknowledged the candidacy of at least 50 migrant women but noted the absence of Traveller women candidates and the lack of female candidates in two constituencies, Moate and An Daingean.

Coyle emphasised the importance of local elections as a pipeline for national elections, and insisted that the current approach by the Government is insufficient. 

She criticised major parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, for failing to field at least 40% women candidates, with neither reaching even 30%.

“A gender quota for Local Elections is a necessity if we are serious about achieving gender equality in political life for women,” she declared.

Beyond advocating for gender quotas, the NWC is calling for broader reforms to create a more women and family-friendly local government. 

These include investing in local public services such as childcare and public transport, establishing local women’s caucuses, implementing better work-life balance policies for Councillors, and promoting feminist community development.