AS Women for Election launch their Guide to GE16, director of operations and campaigns, Suzanne Collins, is urging voters to look at the women running in Mayo and pick the candidate who best reflects their politics and support them on polling day.
“This general election is historic and when compiling our Guide to GE16, with its constituency and statistical breakdown, the impact of the gender quota for selection was really striking. It is also evident that real change can only happen if women are elected.
“The difference between this and the last general election in terms of gender balance is remarkable. In 2011, 86 female candidates made up 15% of the overall candidates. In 2016, 163 women on the ticket make up 30% of candidates. In fact, half of the 40 constituencies have over 30% of women on the ticket,” she said.
“The gender quota for selection legislation has been successful. The percentage of women contesting general elections was on a gradual but steady decline. In 2002, women made up 20% of candidates; in 2007 women comprised 17% of candidates; in 2011 only 15% of candidates were women. The gender quota has succeeded in ensuring that the parties have selected a minimum of 30% of female candidates.
“It has also had a positive knock on effect where the percentage of women running as independents or as part of smaller groupings is over double that of 2011.”
In Mayo, there are 16 candidates on the ticket for GE16 and four are women. Mayo meets the national average of women running per constituency which is four.
Only two women have ever been elected in Mayo - Michelle Mulherin and Beverly Flynn.
Said Ms. Collins: “Mayo has only ever elected two women. The challenge now is to change that and get women elected. The only way to create real change is for the voters to vote for women and give women high preferences.
“Women for Election are urging voters to seek out the woman who best represents their politics, policies, views and values and give them a number one or the highest possible preference. It may mean that voters have to really think about it perhaps vote differently this time.
“The potential to change the face of the Dáil is unprecedented. It is up to Mayo voters to decide if they want to create that change.”