GMIT to participate in Mayo Council webinar to present research on female representation in politics in Mayo (20 Nov 2020, 11am)
GMIT's Dr Janine McGinn and Dr Mary O’Connor, Brain & Behaviour Institute, present research findings, with GMIT President Dr Orla Flynn guest panellist
Date Article Written:
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
A webinar on female representation in politics in Mayo, presenting research conducted by GMIT lecturer Dr Janine McGinn in collaboration with Dr Mary O Connor, Brain and Behaviour Institute, will take place on Friday next, 20 November, 11am. GMIT President Dr Orla Flynn will be a guest panelist at the event.
“Women in Politics and Community Representation”, organised by Mayo County Council in collaboration with a number of Mayo based organisations, will take place on MS Teams. The webinar is open to all on https://www.mayo.ie/women-in-politics-community-representation
The online event will be chaired by Anastasia Crickley, former Chair of the UN Committee for Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), current Community Work Ireland board member and lifelong community worker and feminist. The guest panellists are Dr Orla Flynn, GMIT President, who has over 20 years’ experience in education management; Mary O Rourke, former TD and current affairs commentator; Annie Lawrence, Community Health Worker with Mayo Traveller Support Group and Crown Project contributor; Sara Althobhaney from Yemen, a refugee in Ireland studying Forensic Science in GMIT and current activist for equality and human rights for the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI); Celesta Khosa from South Africa who works with Mayo County Council and is an Amnesty International facilitator and MASI activist.
The research, funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, conducted by Dr Janine McGinn, GMIT researcher and chair of post-graduate studies in Digital Media and Marketing, and Dr Mary O’Connor, Brain and Behaviour Institute, was commissioned by Mayo County Council in collaboration with Mayo North East & South West Mayo Development Company to identify challenges experienced by women when engaging in the political system at local, community, county and national levels in the county.
A specific objective was to explore the motivators for women to become involved in community and political representation and their experiences of involvement. Another objective was to explore the recommendations given by the women to address any identified challenges and by so doing to contribute to the body of knowledge for policymakers and local politics in Mayo and beyond.
The research found that women are under-represented in local government across the country and particularly in Mayo. Comments from those who took part in the research were “gender imbalance must be addressed with urgency” and “we’re not coming up with the solutions that are serving all of society”.
The research found there was minority group discrimination, gender bias in decision-making, and the stereotyping of “the woman’s place at the kitchen sink” still prevails. One elected representative, referring to cultural barriers, was told by a constituent how she was “getting the number 1 vote” (2004) who then added without malice “they need somebody to make the tea for them up there” in the County Council. Another common theme was that “women do not support women” as managerial or election nominees.
Among the report recommendations are calls for more solidarity among women through women’s networks and for the implementation of codes of practice in relation to discriminatory or gender-biased commentary in community and legislative environments. The quota system at national level should remain, according to research participants, and in addition a quota should be activated at local government level.
The research report also recommends that Mayo County Council make a formal public commitment to the principle of equality of women and men by becoming a signatory of the Council of Europe’s European Charter for Equality of Women and Men in Local Life, and that they consider active engagement with Charter principles.
Webinar organiser Jim Power, Mayo County Council (Community Engagement), recalls the leap forward taken 30 years ago this year by Mayo woman Mary Robinson when she became the first female President of Ireland:“ I hope that this research will serve to help create a Mayo which embraces the richness of our diversity.” he said.
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