Women have been active in political parties since before the foundation of the state, yet very little is known about female politicians or their achievements. The current era of state centenary celebrations offers a timely opportunity to address this gap, and to hear from those women who served as public representatives both nationally and in Europe.
Proud to Serve uncovers the achievements of twenty-eight women who had successful political careers with Cumann na nGaedheal and Fine Gael. Their voices are presented chronologically, in order of the date of their first election or appointment to the Seanad, Dáil and European Parliament, between the years 1922 and 1992.
From Jenny Wyse Power in 1922 to Frances Fitzgerald in 1992, this volume tells us something of their personal and political backgrounds, their motivations for getting involved and their experience of elected life. Through a combination of first-hand accounts, biographical details and resources from the archives, this timely book also affords us some insight into the issues that were prevalent during their time as public representatives, and their views about the future for women’s involvement in politics in Ireland.
The political voices in this book cast light on the influences and questions of the day, and in the process, not only challenge our understanding of the way politics has been contested and navigated, but also speak to us about what it takes to achieve change.
Their stories are fascinating. The picture that emerges is one of women who were hard working, tenacious and effective politicians. Their service and persistence in the face of the challenges and attitudes they encountered carved out a pathway for women in political life and helped advance the cause of equality for women in Ireland.
In bringing together the political reflections and accomplishments of these female politicians for the first time, Proud to Serve gives voice to the experiences of an extraordinary group of women. Each made important contributions to Irish politics and balanced many competing demands at a time when women’s participation in public life was particularly challenging.