Research conducted in Queen’s University by Professor Yvonne Galligan on women’s political representation has played an important role in the introduction of mandatory gender quotas in general elections in the Republic of Ireland.
ADDRESSING THE UNDER-REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN IN IRISH POLITICS
In 1918, After decades of campaigning by the suffragettes, Women won the right to vote in Irish parliamentary elections. The Representation of People Act 1918 was one of the most significant democratic milestones for Gender equality in the history of Irish politics. However, since then, progress in addressing the under-representation of women in Irish politics has been painfully slow.
EXPOSING THE 'GLACIAL-PACE' OF PROGRESS
Professor Galligan has published widely on the democratic problem of women's under-representation in Ireland. In research articles, public presentations and commissioned reports for political parties, she has developed a case for the use of gender quotas in political and public settings as a means of addressing the persistent gender deficit in public decision-making in the country.
Galligan provided a comprehensive review of what she referred to as the “glacial” pace of progress in addressing the under-representation of women in Irish politics. This review presented a wealth of data on women’s under-representation. It concluded that political parties would need to take “strong affirmative action” measures in order to make any significant progress on the issue.
The work helped lead to a doubling of the proportion of female candidates and a 48% rise in the proportion of women elected representatives in the 2016 Irish general election.
What impact did it make?
ENABLING AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
The work helped lead to a doubling of the proportion of female candidates and a 48% rise in the proportion of women elected representatives in the 2016 Irish general election, and there were further increases at the 2020 general election. A rise in women’s representation in the 2019 Irish local government election can also be attributed, in part, to the indirect impact of mandatory quotas. In addition, the research had a significant beneficial impact on the policies and practice of one major political party, Fianna Fáil, through the work of a commission on women’s representation. Finally, the research also led to the establishment of a women’s caucus at the Northern Ireland Assembly and to the setting up of a similar body in the Irish parliament.
Impact related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals
Learn more about Queen’s University’s commitment to nurturing a culture of sustainability and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through research and education.