Ireland's lack of female political leaders exposed

Ireland is lagging behind the European average in not having female political party leaders.

Ireland's lack of female political leaders exposed

Also, it is below average for women elected to parliament.

However, the country ranks above average for female representation in local elections, in the judiciary and as ambassadors.

A report by the Council of Europe (CoE), which has 47 member states, shows that Ireland is improving its broad representation of women.

Women in Power found that only two countries — Finland and Sweden — have reached the Council of Europe target, set in 2003, to have a minimum of 40% representation of women in parliament.

Currently, the average is 26% for single or lower houses of parliament. Ireland scored 22% in that key category, an 8% increase on 2005.

The report, based on 2016 data, found that, compared to many EU nations, Ireland is considerably behind.

After Sweden (44%) and Finland (42%), Spain was at 40%, Netherlands and Belgium were at 39%, Denmark at 38%, and Germany at 37%.

Countries similar, or close, to Ireland include Estonia (24%), Croatia (21%), Czech Republic (20%), and Poland (27%). The rate in Britain was 30%. Among all CoE states, the lowest rates were in Armenia, Malta, and Hungary (all 10%).

While some countries were about the 40% threshold for the lower house of parliament (the Dáil in Ireland), none were above that for the upper house of parliament (the Seanad here).

Ireland was one of 16 of the 46 states surveyed that has a quota system for political parties, where the level is set at 30%.

Among these countries, the actual participation stood at 27%, with Ireland’s at 22%.

The survey found that women were the chairs of 30% of parliamentary committees here, compared to the average of 25%.

Half of the speakers of parliaments surveyed were women, but Ireland was not one of them.

Ireland was above average for election/appointment to the upper house (38%), compared to an average of 27%, and second only to Spain.

For women’s appointment as senior ministers in national executives, Ireland is slightly above the average — 27% compared to 24%. The Irish figure has grown from 20%, in 2005.

A number of countries have an equal split (France, Slovenia and Sweden), while other countries with a high percentage included Norway (47%), Albania (42%), the Netherlands (39%), Finland, and Britain (36%).

Ireland was significantly below for junior ministers, at 18% compared to 26%. But the rate has risen threefold here, since 2005.

One in five mayors were women in Ireland, compared to an average of one in seven. Sweden was way ahead of other countries, at 37%.

Ireland had no female party leaders, compared to an average of 15%. Some 60% of party leaders in Iceland were women, half in Liechtenstein, and 40% in five countries (Moldova, Poland, Norway, Sweden, and Estonia).

In terms of the judiciary, 40% of judges in the High and Supreme Court were women, similar to the average (41%).

Bulgaria had the highest rate (77%), followed by Latvia (70%), Luxembourg (69%), and Montenegro (68%).

Italy and Britain have the worst record (7% and 8%), while Finland and Spain were also well below the average (25% and 29%).

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