Friday, January 20, 2012

Statutory maternity leave should be introduced for female politicians - Doherty

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Friday) called for statutory maternity leave to be introduced for female politicians. Deputy Doherty made her comments at the ‘How to Elect More Women’ conference held in Dublin by Minister of State Kathleen Lynch.

“The lack of maternity leave provision for female politicians is just one of the many factors that are discouraging many women from entering the world of politics in Ireland. Female members of the Oireachtas are not considered to be employees, and therefore they are not currently entitled to statutory maternity leave. This is archaic and anti-women, and it is one of many issues I would like to see addressed without delay.

“Today’s conference provided a refreshing opportunity to debate the issues and obstacles preventing women from taking up a role in politics. The very nature of politics can seem completely incompatible with having children; late night local branch meetings and Dáil sittings can be very difficult to juggle with having a family.

“As a first time female TD and a mother of four, I was struck by how much Leinster House can still seem like an old boys’ club at times. Take a quick glance across the Dáil chamber and you will be greeted with more middle-aged male faces than anything else. Our national parliament must be representative of society; we need more women and more people from a range of different backgrounds.

“There are more female representatives in 31st Dáil than ever before; however women still only account for a paltry 15% of representatives. I believe the Electoral Amendment Bill, which has been published by the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, will make significant strides in addressing this imbalance.

“The Bill, once it is passed into law, will penalise political parties if they do not have at least 30% female and 30% male candidates at the next general election. As a female representative of Dáil Eireann, I represent men, women and children alike. This Bill offers us the chance to truly change the face of our national parliament, for the betterment of Irish society as a whole. We are on the cusp of something really significant here; now let’s get on with it.”

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