Fine Gael’s Dr. Liam Twomey wants politicians to be proactive about ensuring that more women become involved in politics.
Currently in the Dail, women make up 14% of the TDs. In the mid-1990s, the average participation rate for women elected to the Lower House in the EU was 16% but has now increased to 24%. Therefore, Ireland is ten percentage points behind the EU average. However Dr. Twomey believes that these figures can improve just like improvements were made in participation of women in his profession of medicine. “This happened, not because anybody wanted to change the system but because 75% of medical students were women. Therefore, the majority of doctors graduating were women and the system had to change to fit in with the lives of female doctors.”
Dr. Twomey pointed out that politics is a macho profession and it is all about long nights, staying out at night at meetings and is essentially anti- family. “What happens when more women are involved in politics is that there is more discussion on social issues rather than on purely economic issues and the way politics is delivered changes as well. However, the only way we will effect change is by actively placing women in roles of responsibility, both elected and non-elected, in the political system. If this is done, the ethos in politics will change significantly. Failing this, however, there will not be any change. That is why in large constituencies like county Wexford, I would like to see Fine Gael endeavour to give the opportunity to voters to vote for a woman candidate. ”
Dr. Twomey believes that the use of quotas and list systems can lead to this change. “The political structure is not family friendly for fathers or mothers. During my time as a Member of the other House I found politics an incredible burden. I had three very young children at the time and found that considerable effort was required to try to balance being a politician and a father. As politicians, we must try to actively encourage change. It is time to reactivate positive action to change the public’s mindset and ensure that women will want to become involved in politics.”
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