Ireland: Understanding gender quotas as a stepping-stone to gender transformation and empowerment

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Brennan, Mary
Buckley, Fiona
Galligan, Yvonne
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Palgrave Macmillan
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Ostensibly, gender quotas have had a transformative effect on women’s political candidacy and election in Ireland. Since the inaugural “gender quota election” of 2016, the number of women candidates contesting general elections has increased by 90% while the number of women elected has increased by 44%. Yet, in 2022, men outnumber women by a ratio of 3.44:1 in Dáil Eireann (the lower house of parliament). This chapter discusses the implementation of legislative gender quotas in Ireland. It shows that political parties have met the letter of the law in fielding the requisite numbers of women candidates, but questions remain as to the extent to which the spirit of the law has been embraced to transform candidate selection processes within political parties. The chapter argues that legislative gender quotas should therefore be understood as the start rather than the culmination of efforts to achieve gender equality within political parties in Ireland. But beyond political parties, we conclude that the introduction of candidate gender quotas in Ireland flagged a significant shift in political culture, which carried through into later political reforms on the unresolved issue of abortion and the newer issue of marriage equality.
Ireland , Legislative gender quotas
Brennan, M., Buckley, F. and Galligan, Y. (2023) 'Ireland: Understanding gender quotas as a stepping-stone to gender transformation and empowerment', in Lang, S., Meier, P. and Sauer, B. (eds) Party Politics and the Implementation of Gender Quotas. Gender and Politics. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, pp 231–248. doi: 10.1007/978-3-031-08931-2_12
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