Westmeath ranks 22nd for female political representation

Women for Election has marked International Women’s Day by issuing a report card for the major political parties as the focus turns to candidate selection for the next General Election.

Major parties must select 30 per cent of women for the General Election or face financial penalties. The report examines how many women were on the ticket in 2014 nationally and in each local authority, who was elected, and provides a detailed party breakdown and comparisons with the last elections in 2009. Westmeath now ranks 22nd nationally for female representation.

Speaking about the report card, Women for Election co-founder Michelle O’Donnell Keating said: “The local and European elections in May 2014 represented a milestone in Irish politics.Women made up an historic high of 22 per cent of all candidates and now make up an unprecedented 21 per cent of elected councillors - a 33 per cent leap from 2009.

“Women for Election were pleased to be able to play such a significant role, with 50 per cent of those women elected at local government level having come through one of our training programmes. Two of the three newly elected female MEPs likewise benefited from training, support, and mentoring from Women for Election.

“Westmeath almost met the national average for candidates with 20 per cent of women selected but was significantly below the national average of women elected at 15 per cent. This means that Westmeath now ranks 22nd nationally in the rankings of female representation. However there is some good news that the proportion of women councillors is up slightly at 6 per cent from 2009.

“It is evident to Women for Election that the parties need to look closely at Westmeath to consolidate the gains and build on what is working and increase the upward trend. We know that there is no shortage of women within party ranks and elsewhere in terms of members and activists to select for the General Election. The talent is there but it is up to the parties and others to bring it forward.”

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