Women must be better represented in business and politics says Harkin

Independent MEP Marian Harkin

Independent MEP Marian Harkin

Two women TDs from Fianna Fail and Fine Gael came in for criticism at the presentation of Business Women of the Year Awards in Mayo this week.

The criticism came from Independent MEP Marian Harkin at the presentation of Awards for Network Mayo, the Mayo branch of the National Organisation for Women in Business. Her criticism was levelled at Fianna Fail TD Mary O’Rourke and Fine Gael Gael TD Lucinda Creighton both of whom oppose creating a gender quota to improve the representation of women in politics.

Referring to the representation of women in politics and parliaments across the world, Marian Harkin said that Ireland’s record was dismal. “Because it is particularly difficult for women to emerge through the party political system and it does not help when high profile women politicians denigrate the proposal to develop a gender quota system”, she said.

At business level the special talents which women possessed were recognised in countries like Norway where there was a gender quota of 40 per cent applied to boards of directors, she said. “This level of inclusion also applies to Spain, the Netherlands and France,” she said. The talents of women are also recognised in the USA as the recent statement of US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner indicated that, according to him, if women had been running Wall St, they couldn’t possibly have ‘gotten it worse’.

She concluded: “The whole question of gender quotas on business boards and women in politics needs to be opened up in Ireland because there is a severe lack of balance involved. One or two women politicians or board members do not adequately represent the potential of women and until a critical mass of women is contributing in business and politics, Ireland will be missing out on a particularly valuable resource.”

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