Gender quotas…..cynical and conservative.

The 50/50 Group is busy posting articles on gender quotas to their site….but commenting results in an error.  The site says “You don’t have permission to access /blog/wp-comments-post.php on this server.”

So, there’s an article on quotas at

This is the reply I attempted to post….


The latest accusation – repeated also elsewhere – is that people who oppose the idea of genderquotas are “against an honest attempt at increasing the number of women in Leinster House”.

This is a downright lie.

Quotas are a blunt instrument in any context.  The specific quota measures being introduced are a cynical exercise in maintaining the taxpayer funding of the current political parties.  These are the self same parties that are supposedly the cause of the whole problem by selecting men over women.

The advocates of quotas continually evade the discussion of WHY there are too few women in the Dail.  An MEP even told me it was a waste of money trying to figure it out.  Yet academics in the 50/50 group will simultaneously mention specific issues that hinder women in their desire to enter politics….  

You can’t have it both ways.  If there are specific issues then these can be addressed with specific measures and without blunt quotas.  If we do not know what the specific issues are, then how do you know quotas will have a desirable outcome?

Meantime the number of women who ran as independents in the last election was also dreadfully low, so the current party quota measure is obviously addressing something that isn’t actually related to the problem in the first place. 

If the parties are the cause of the problem then let’s stop giving them taxpayer money.  If the parties are NOT the cause of the problem then the proposed quota measure is anti-democratic and irrelevant to the actual problem.

Of course, meantime, let’s not even start on the constitutional or democratic legitimacy of the government being able to create criteria by which it can decide the amount of funding opposing political parties can receive.  Women’s representation today, what tomorrow?

To use an example given elsewhere, if there was a women’s rights party (or a men’s rights party) they would supposedly have to have 30% representation from the other sex.  Nutso. 

The quota measure proposed is a deeply cynical and conservative measure.  It protects the current political parties in their place.  The parties that – collectively – have been a disaster for this state.

It’s anti democratic at core.  

Of course, that won’t stop the parties pushing it. It means they’ll keep getting taxpayer money.   


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