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Women for Election CEO Ciairín de Buis has called on women to run in elections this coming May, and for parties to encourage female candidates.

There have been more Seáns and Johns than elected to Dáil Éireann that women overall, according to  data analysis of all elected TDs since 1918

Yesterday saw a crowded audience gather in the Royal College of Physicians on Kildare Street to hear a panel discussion organised by Women for Election, titled; “Will 2019 be Ireland's Year of #MoreWomen?” 

The panel was chaired by journalist Alison O'Connor, and included Lisa Chambers TD (Fianna Fáil), TD (Green Party), Senator Alice-Mary Higgins (Independent), Cllr Madeleine Johansson (People Before Profit) and Kate O'Connell TD (Fine Gael).

The event asked politicians about the chance of more women running and winning elections this year, and how parties are taking action to help improve gender balances in the political sphere.

In our last local elections in 2014, only 21 percent of electives were female councillors, compared to 16 percent in 2009.

There has undoubtedly been a swell in political activism in Ireland over the last few years, especially due to the Repeal movement, and the panel were discussing whether this energy would make it to the polls and ballots.

Women for Election CEO Ciairín de Buis commented; “2019 has at least two elections, possibly more. Last year we held a series of training events in Dublin, Cork and Galway covering communication strategies, campaigning and canvassing."

He continued; I’ve met dozens of women who are running in the locals and Europeans this year. We’ve also worked with women and their campaign team who are preparing for the next General Election, whenever that may be.”  

22 percent of TDs are women currently, a historic high, but still too low.

De Buis continued; “The appetite for more women to enter politics is there and I, and Women for Election, want to help any woman thinking about running to have the courage and confidence to put her name on the ballot, either with a party nomination or as an independent.”  

Green Party leader and TD Eamon Ryan mentions the praise-worthy work of former Green Party TD and former Minister of State Mary White’s role in the establishment of gender quotas for party candidate lists. 

Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell refers to the centennial celebration of certain women securing the right to vote, noting that this has added to the conversation around women's role in politics in Ireland.

“The celebration of 100 years since some women first achieved the right to vote has focused the mind on our incomplete democracy,” says Deputy O’Connell. 

“Whilst mindful of the progress we have made in terms of female representation it is still shocking that 78% of those in Dáil Éireann are men.

"Leaders must now act by example. The time for acceptance of anything less than an equal male to female ratio is nigh on over." she concluded.

Non-for-profit Women for Election will be hosting training throughout 2019 for women, as well as hopefully organising an online course.

Feature image: www.womenforelection.ie 

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The Bernard Shaw is a well-known site for political activism: murals dedicated to Savita Halappanavar, the Repeal Movement and the homelessness crisis have appeared in recent times alone.

This week saw a spark of anger which turned into a flame following a controversial Cork rape trial in which a female barrister named Elizabeth O'Connell used a 17-year-old woman's underwear as evidence against her.

As a result, #thisisnotconsent protests took place all over the country, with women and men marching with 'I Believe Her' banners in the air.

The Bernard Shaw's latest activist art piece is dedicated to the young woman whose 27-year-old alleged attacker was acquitted of rape following Elizabeth O'Connell's finishing statement.

The barrister urged the jury of eight men and four women to consider the woman's underwear, which happened to be a lace thong, claiming that the woman "was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone".

The Richmond Street South mural shows painted images of various shapes and sizes of underwear, with each branded with the words 'Not Asking For It.' The work was created by Emma Blake, a street artist and graphic designer, also known as Estr.

The mural's appearance is in support of the solidarity rallies which took place this week, urging the government to change the way in which rape trials are conducted.

Women's rights group ROSA wrote that the judicial consideration of the girl's underwear  as evidence was a "disgrace".

ROSA also stated: "These lines of character accusation and victim blaming are unfortunately a common tactic used in cases before the courts relating to sexual violence."

"The judiciary has proven itself time and time again to be utterly damaging to survivors of sexual violence to seek justice."

 Let's hope these crucial protests lead to the necessary changes to Irish law regarding sexual violence.

Feature image: Channel NewsAsia

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