New roadshow in schools encourages more young women to enter politics
See Her Elected, the award-winning Government funded project which aims to encourage women from rural areas to engage in local politics has recently rolled out a new schools’ roadshow in a bid to encourage more young women to see politics as a possible career path.
The roadshow is part of a political education series which hopes to encourage diversity in county council chambers in rural areas throughout the country.
Communications Manager with See Her Elected, Roscommon native Mairead O’Shea has already visited a number of secondary schools in counties Galway, Mayo and Roscommon in a bid to encourage discussion around the need for more young women and more diversity in the make-up of county councils.
Presentations have taken place in Coláiste Mhuire, Ballygar; Roscommon Community College; Ballyhaunis Community School and the Roscommon Convent of Mercy.
“We want to see more diversity in our rural county council chambers. As it stands, there are very few women councillors and virtually no representation of minority communities.
"Our aim is to increase the numbers of women in local politics in rural counties where anything from 78% to 95% of the elected local authority councillors are men. We need our chambers to be more reflective of society and we need to see more women in politics in order to have more balanced decision making.
“As part of our political education series, we have started a pilot project for schools whereby we do a presentation for students from senior classes to encourage them to critically engage with See Her Elected’s work and the outcomes from having Council Chambers that do not reflect what the communities they represent look like.
"See Her Elected’s aim is to engage with students to increase their awareness and understanding of gender inequality in politics as well as encouraging them to get their names on the Register of Electors. Some schools have Politics & Society as a subject but even if schools don’t have these subjects, it’s a fantastic opportunity to get students thinking about why the current status quo needs to change," she continued.
Many 5th and 6th year students will be able to vote in the next Local Elections in 2024 so they are the ideal age group to address and the feedback and positive engagement from students has been fantastic, Ms O'Shea added.
"We have lots of information to share and some great videos and each presentation is tailored to the specific county and we invite a female councillor from the area to speak about the daily work of being a county councillor,” said Mairead.
In recent months See Her Elected published ‘A Guide to Running in the 2024 Local Elections’ which is a user-friendly guide to running for election. The organisation was also crowned winners in the Democracy category of the Innovation in Politics Award by the EU in Brussels last December which was a first for Ireland.
Only 26% of councillors in Ireland are women and there is a major difficultly with an under representation of women in local politics in rural Ireland. For example, there is only one woman out of 19 councillors on Offaly County Council: 2 out of 30 on Mayo County Council; 3 out of 18 in Leitrim ; 4 out of 18 in Roscommon and 2 out of 18 in Longford.
In almost one hundred years there have only been 11 women elected to Roscommon County Council (since 1925) and likewise only 14 women elected to Westmeath County Council in almost 100 years!
Schools interested in having the See Her Elected Schools’ Roadshow visit their school can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
See Her Elected run regular online classes and workshops to support women who may be planning to run for election in 2024 or indeed women who want to become part of a team to help another woman get elected. More information is available from email@example.com or by logging onto www.seeherelected.ie
See Her Elected is a joint initiative between Longford Women’s Link and 50/50 North West. The project is funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.