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Time ripe to address gender imbalance in politics

In her letter (Nov 4), Louise Patricia Sheridan writes that forced quotas are not the way to go to encourage women into politics; and instead welcomes educational opportunities as a way to increase representation.

It is well known that a combination of hard measures — quotas; along with softer measures — educational opportunities including leadership training, mentoring programmes and sustained support for women candidates, are what are required to rectify the historic imbalance in our politics.

Women for Election is a new organisation whose mission is to inspire and equip women to enter politics through tailored training and support programmes. Our programmes will provide the educational opportunities referred to by Ms Sheridan. However it is the quota legislation — and its associated financial penalty — that will drive political parties and female candidates to participate in our programmes.

Ireland now has an opportunity to implement proactive and positive methods that have been proven worldwide to contribute to a more balanced representation. It is up to us to utilise this opportunity, complementing it with training and support, move forward and finally address this historical imbalance.

Niamh Gallagher and Michelle O’Donnell Keating

Women for Election

Trimleston Gardens

Booterstown, Co Dublin

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