Social Democrats councillor Joan Hopkins will be calling for gender balance on Fingal County Council’s Corporate Policy Group (CPG) when she puts forward a motion at this month’s council meeting.
The Corporate Policy Group is made up of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and the Chairs of the council’s six Special Policy Committees. Its function includes preparing the annual budget and five-year corporate plan, as well as making policy proposal recommendations to the council.
Currently, all eight of these paid positions are held by male councillors, meaning the female councillors of Fingal have zero representation on this most influential group.
Commenting, Cllr Hopkins stated:
‘Without adequate representation in Government, be it at national or local authority level, the realisation of women’s rights is severely limited. The increased presence of women in Government has a significant impact on policy agenda. Women make up 51% of the population and have a unique set of experiences and perspectives on issues. They must be sufficiently represented in decision-making to reflect a true democracy.
“The Local Government Act 2001 states that ‘a local authority shall seek to promote the objective of an appropriate gender balance in the making of appointments by it to bodies’. Fingal County Council have advised that ‘It is a matter for the members to have regard to this legislation when nominating councillors to the various committees and bodies of the Council’.”
Cllr Hopkins added:
“The fact that the members of Fingal County Council – the majority of whom are male – ‘considered’ gender balance, as required by the law, and still ended up not nominating one single women to this influential group speaks volumes. It suggests to me that the current legislation which seeks only to ‘promote’ gender balance does not work.
“Not only do these positions afford greater influence on the council, they also contribute to the gender pay gap as the positions come with significant additional payment.
Currently only 22% of seats in the Dáil are held by women. The lack of women on Fingal’s CPG could act as a barrier for women in Fingal to progress as these positions play a pivotal role in assisting councillors move up to national politics.
“There are lots of very committed male councillors in Fingal but there are also many talented female councillors who deserve to have a seat at the table. All the people of Fingal deserve to see themselves reflected in the decision-making process.
“Countries with the most female policymakers and lawmakers have made the most progress on issues such as equality, social inclusion, labour force participation and paid leave – that’s because women are more likely to raise these issues. Increased participation by women has been proven to change overall party positions in areas associated with family, equality and social inclusion and results in women’s interests becoming more centrally situated on the political agenda.
“The absence of women making decisions on Fingal County Council may well be a factor in a lack of infrastructure in our constituencies, from public toilets, playgrounds and safe parks to cycling infrastructure, schools and housing.”
February 1, 2021