I just have to begin this week’s article with the quip ‘It is about ability not gender. It is having the right person for the job or with only 7 days to the election, it’s about having the right person for the Council’.
There was a time in years gone by when women were excluded from learning maths and science. It was believed that women’s brains were too cold and too soft to sustain rigorous theory and the women’s cranium too small to hold a powerful brain; that mathematics required a ‘virile’ mind and exercising women’s brains would shrink their ovaries.
I think the recent appointment of Minister Frances Fitzgerald to Minister of Justice and Equality and the fact that our justice system is now completely headed by women will disprove anyone of the disbelief that women are not as capable as men, even in the political arena.
In case any of the readers missed last week’s column The National Women’s Collective- Donegal Women’s Network sent an ‘Open Invitation’ to the 83 candidates to respond to questions that have been identified as areas of concern by voters in Donegal.
All responses or non-responses can be found by clicking on the link to the Donegal Women’s Network webpage below.
This we believe will give the electorate an insight into each candidate as well as giving the candidates an open forum which could be helpful in securing votes.
Only six out of the 29 sitting County Councillors responded. One should not be quick to judge, not knowing all the circumstances as to why 61 candidates made no response, but it is very disheartening and raises deep concern. I do wonder however, whether it was sheer arrogance on behalf of the sitting candidates that they feel they will be elected regardless, or whether it was fear of having to publicly state their position and pledge to a number of specific actions if elected.
Ultimately the National Women’s Collective-Donegal Women’s Network is only facilitating the electorate with an opportunity to have an insight into what the candidates bring by way of their own experiences, their understanding and commitment on a number of issues in relation to social justice and equality in Donegal.
All of the candidates who responded stated that they would work towards upholding and promoting the ethos of social inclusion, equality and human rights. All agreed that gender equality is a fundamental principle underpinning the concept of social justice, and human and civil rights in Ireland. All agreed to sign up to the MAN UP campaign and to undertake a half day workshop on domestic violence in 2014 that would be delivered by Donegal Women’s Domestic Violence Service.
On the question of LGBT and the up-coming referendum on same sex marriage there were varying views put forward as to how they would ensure there was a balanced debate on this issue in Donegal.
Childcare, carers, Travellers, the question of women and men’s equal participation in Irish politics received broader responses.
In relation to the question on whether or not Donegal County Council should be more family-friendly for its elected councillors, most referred to the provision of child care and the times of meetings. One spoke on the fact that there was far too much grandstanding and brinkmanship on Donegal County Council, leading to meetings breaking down due to disorder and meetings being deliberately prolonged for petty point scoring.
Since 1918 Donegal has had only two female TD’s. There is no woman TD representing Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo in the current Dáil. In the local elections in Donegal there are 11 female candidates out of 83 and for the EU elections four out of 14 are women.
Link to Donegal Women’s Network - www.donegalwomensnetwork.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/be-informed-2014-local-election