Green Party Councillor Lourda Scott has called for the establishment of a Women’s Caucus for Local Authority councillors in an attempt to address the gender imbalance in local politics and to straighten the link between female councillors nationwide.
Female candidates made up 24% of seats won nationwide in this year’s local elections.
Despite this low number, Wicklow County Council finds itself slightly above the European average for female representatives, with 34% of its councillors being female.
Scott believes this creates challenges for women entering and staying in politics, emphasising that the issue needs to be addressed.
“Local government is an important avenue for getting practical experience in politics. Ireland’s record of elected female representatives at local Government Level is extremely poor with just 24% women elected nationally in 2019. In Wicklow County Council we have 34% women taking their seats, which is slightly above the European average but falls short of having a truly gender balanced Council Chamber.
“The challenge now is not only to encourage more women in Wicklow to enter politics but also to support those that are there to remain. I see the aim of a Women’s Caucus strengthening links among female councillors nationally, creating a space where their voices can be heard and work together for mutual benefit..
“I am confident that this network will encourage more women to remain in politics and become stronger leaders in the process. For female politicians there are particular challenges to working in a predominantly male dominated and male designed system.
Scott continued to state that we should be striving to achieve at least a 50/50 gender balance on local authorities in the future and that such diversity will be of benefit to everyone.
“I believe that by developing a network of support from the ground up, we are taking the critical next step in affecting true change in our political system. We have already seen the benefits of collaborative work through the alliance of women in recent political campaigns and the work of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus as chaired by Green Party TD Catherine Martin.
“I look forward to the day when Wicklow County Council has at least 50% female representation with women from all backgrounds taking their places in the Council Chamber. This diversity will benefit everyone in the County. By taking positive steps such as developing a Women’s Caucus I am hopeful that that this will be sooner rather than later,” concluded Scott.