Local Fine Gael Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke, proudly accepted the prestigious award for Innovation in Politics in Brussels on behalf of the Irish organisation See Her Elected, a programme which is fully funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
See Her Elected (SHE ), a community-led, rural initiative to support women into politics, are active in Westmeath and throughout Midlands region where there are fewer women in politics in comparison to elsewhere in the country.
SHE was selected as a finalist out of 400 projects in the Innovation in Politics awards, chosen by a jury of 1,032 European citizens. The awards recognise courageous and creative political projects in Europe, regardless of their party affiliation or level of government.
Speaking from Brussels after the announcement was made, Minister Burke said he was thrilled with the news, commending the team at SHE for their hard work and commitment.
“I am delighted with the news that SHE has won the overall Innovation in Politics Award in the democracy category, and from working with them over the last eighteen months, I am not surprised.
“SHE is a feminist, community-led, rural initiative to support women into politics. They were established in 2019 to tackle the lack of female representation in politics, particularly in the midlands and north-west where anything from 78 percent to 95 percent of the elected local authority councils are made up of men.
“SHE engages directly with women in their communities through the innovative SHE School where participants learn more about local government and explore how they can overcome the barriers that face many women who are interested in participating in electoral politics.
“Coming from a rural background and prioritising the issue of gender equality in local government, I have been delighted to support and collaborate with SHE through funding their programmes and engaging with them in relation to research and the development of policy.
“It is a priority of the Irish government to achieve gender and diversity balance in both local and national politics. In the last year, I have allocated funding to Women for Election, our local authorities, the National Women’s Council of Ireland, political parties and organisations such as SHE.
“We have commissioned research on the barriers to engagement in politics to inform future policy and recently improved the terms and conditions for Councillors. I soon will bring forward proposals for maternity leave and supports for Councillors, which is a long overdue policy requirement.
“I congratulate Dr Michelle Maher and all the team at SHE and commend them for their invaluable contribution to Irish politics. I look forward to continued collaboration, as there is still much work to do to make our council chambers reflect the communities they serve,” Deputy Burke asserted.