More than one in four candidates selected by the major political parties to contest elections in Galway city last year were women.
The city ranked fourth nationally in terms of female representation, according to a report on female candidate selection published by Women for Election, an organisation seeking gender balance in politics. It provides training, support and mentoring to women to encourage them to become more politically active.
The study revealed that 26 per cent of city candidates and 22 per cent of city councillors were women. The latter figure resulted in the city ranking 10th nationally. The proportion of women councillors increased by two per cent on 2009 figures.
Galway county lagged far behind regarding female representation in politics with 19 per cent of candidates being women, ranking the area 19th nationally. Meanwhile 13 per cent of councillors were women, putting Galway county into 24th place nationally. The proportion of women councillors was up three per cent from 2009.
The Women for Election report was issued earlier this week to mark International Women’s Day. Major parties must ensure 30 per cent of selected candidates in the General Election are women or face financial penalties.
Women for Election co-founder Michelle O’Donnell Keating said the report aims to highlight the importance of political parties prioritising women when selecting candidates for the upcoming General Election. She said it is evident from the results that the parties will need to look closely at Galway.
“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.”
She pointed out that national figures were exceeded in Galway city where 26 per cent of candidates and 22 per cent of those elected were women. She added that Galway county differed in that only 19 per cent of candidates selected and 13 per cent elected were female.
“It is evident to Women for Election that the parties are going have to look closely at Galway and learn lessons from the city. 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.
“As we approach the next General Election, Women for Election has demonstrated that there is a pipeline of talented able women ready to take the next step on their political journey and given the support, training and mentoring their chances of success are significantly heightened.