Fine Gael Senator Aisling Dolan said, “I am delighted to see that See Her Elected (SHE) have won this prestigious award in Brussels. Congratulations to the organisation, its staff and volunteers, and all the many women it has supported. This is deserved recognition for an organisation promoting the involvement of rural women in politics.
“We need people with ideas and vision coming forward to represent our communities and it’s so important to have a balance so that all voices are heard.
“SHE have a particular focus on encouraging women from rural areas to step forward, which is badly needed. In own my area of Roscommon and Galway, it is more regional – smaller towns and villages and yet we have incredible community groups, development associations, heritage groups, Tidy Towns. So many people volunteer time to support their local community, there is a pride in where we come from and this drives community engagement at a local level as well as projects that benefit the whole town or village.
“For many community groups, women are the driving force. They give commitment and volunteer hours to improve lives for their families and community as a whole. Yet despite their demonstrable skills in the community and voluntary sector, they might not consider local politics as a viable option.
“See Her Elected are fantastic at supporting women considering the next step of public representation. It takes much encouragement from family and friends to go forward, however the importance of a woman’s voice is so crucial to ensure all voices are heard at a local and national level, especially in rural areas.
“Traditionally sports clubs and networks were where people were encouraged to put themselves forward for public representation, now we see more women’s clubs in our towns and villages, and this will also have an impact.
“In addition, we need more support for childcare and maternity leave at the level of local politics. My Fine Gael colleague, Minster Peter Burke is soon to being forward legislative proposals for maternity leave for Councillors and I look forward to working on this legislation in the Oireachtas.”
Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government, Peter Burke, who accepted the award on behalf of SHE in Brussels said, “Coming from a rural background and prioritising the issue of gender equality in Local Government, I have been delighted to support and collaborate with SHE through funding their programmes and engaging with them in relation to research and development of policy.
“It is a priority of the Irish Government to achieve gender balance in both local and national politics and attract people from diverse backgrounds. In the last year, I have allocated funding to Women for Election, our Local Authorities, the National Women’s Council of Ireland, political parties and organisations such as SHE. We have commissioned research on the barriers to engagement in politics and improved the terms and conditions for Councillors. I will also soon be bringing forward proposals for maternity leave for Councillors, which is a long overdue policy requirement.”