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Mayo County Council Presents: Women in Politics and Community Representation

Date: 19-11-2020

A webinar on female representation in politics in Mayo

Friday 20th November 2020, 11am

“Women in Politics and Community Representation”, a webinar on female representation in politics in Mayo, containing research conducted by Dr. Janine McGinn and Dr. Mary O’Connor, with guest panelists Mary O’Rourke, Annie Lawrence, Sara Althobhaney, Celesta Khosa and Dr. Orla Flynn.

The research was conducted to identify challenges experienced by      women when engaging in the political system at local, community, county and national levels in county Mayo. 

The objectives of the research was to explore the motivators for women to become involved in community and political representation and their experiences of involvement. And, to explore the recommendations given by the women to address any identified challenges so as to contribute to the body of knowledge for policymakers and local politics in Mayo and beyond. 

MS Teams will host the webinar, which is open to all by clicking on this link Women in Politics and Community Representation which will be live from 11am on Friday Nov 20th. The webinar will be recorded and viewed on from Monday November 23rd. Any issues accessing the webinar, then please email

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 panelists are Mary O Rourke, former TD and current affairs commentator; Annie Lawrence, Community Health Worker with Mayo Traveller Support Group and Crown Project contributor; Dr Orla Flynn, GMIT President, who has over 20 years’ experience in education management; Sara Althobhaney from Yemen, 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.

Women are underrepresented in local government across the country and particularly in Mayo. “In order for society to progress”, according to research participants, “this gender imbalance must be addressed with urgency” as “we’re not coming up with the solutions that are serving all of society”.

Minority group discrimination: gender bias in decision -making and the traditional stereotyping of the “woman’s place at the kitchen sink” still prevail. One elected representative told how she was “getting the number 1 vote” from one constituent who believed “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.  Recommendations call for more solidarity among women via involvement in women’s networks; 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 actively engage with Charter principles.

Webinar organizer, 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 and he adds “I hope that this research will serve to help create a Mayo which embraces the richness of our diversity.”

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