Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone has today spoken about her concern at the relatively high number of women who are actively choosing to leave politics. Speaking on the issue, Senator Noone said: “In the last two weeks alone, five women who represent Fine Gael at council level – including all three of our female members of Dublin City Council – have all stated that they will not be seeking re-election. As we seek to get more women into politics, this difficulty of keeping women in politics becomes more urgent”.
Speaking in the Seanad today on the issue, Senator Noone said: “Many women from my generation, after jumping the initial hurdles of being nominated – where men outnumber women dramatically – and then being elected, where men outnumber women dramatically – they then decide to opt out of politics entirely and it seems that a higher percentage of women than men are actively deciding to leave politics. We need to examine why that is, and how we can stop that.
Senator Noone added: “A number of measures could be put in place to help with this problem, for instance changing the hours that the Dail sits, and ensuring a more professional 10am-6pm schedule spread across more days. In addition to this, adequate childcare facilities would help both mothers and fathers balance their political careers with family lives more effectively. At Council level, this might extend to trying to consolidate meetings to be on similar nights or utilising technology to allow people to attend certain meetings via Skype”.
Senator Noone added: “In a time where we, in all parties, are making concerted efforts to reach out to women across all demographics and trying to get them into politics, there is no question that there is an equal parallel problem of keeping women in politics – particularly women of my generation”.
Senator Noone concluded: “4 of the 5 female Fine Gael councillors who have decided not to run again are all coming to the end of their first term post-election, and in the case of the 3 Dublin City Councillors, it means that there will be no female incumbents running for Fine Gael in the next local elections in May. Is this coincidence, or is there something more to it? Are the pressures of council life effecting women worse than men? I think this is something that needs to be looked at and, while we all ponder the question of how do we get women into politics, we also need to look at how we keep women in politics and ensure that they feel that their views, concerns and ideas are being heard”.