May 14, 2024 | Featured Articles

A total of 608  women to date have declared their intention to run as candidates in the 2024 Local Elections on Friday 7 June. This represents 32.6% of the overall number, and is a marked increase on 2009, in which female candidates accounted for just 17.2% of the overall number, and in 2019 when women made up 28.4% of the overall total.

This record number of female candidates going forward for the local elections is due in part to the training and support from See Her Elected (SHE) – an award winning, government funded programme which has provided the gateway for women in rural Ireland into local politics.

A breakdown of statistics shows that 238 women (40%) of the 608 female candidates now running in the local elections availed of support, training or resources from the organisation; compiled of 162 new candidates and 76 sitting county councillors.

Election candidates from SHE’s database have been cross referenced with figures from a blog compiled by Maynooth University lecturer Dr Adrian Kavanagh. This database is made up of new candidates and sitting female councillors who have availed of free training, support and/or resources from the organisation over the past number of years.

SHE’s Programme Manager Dr Michelle Maher pointed out that her organisation has enjoyed phenomenal growth and success within a relatively short timeframe in preparing women, and the women in their campaign teams, for the 2024 Local Elections as well as laying the groundwork for 2029 and beyond. “It’s heartening to see that almost 40% of women who have declared their intention to run for this year’s Local Elections have availed of training or support from See Her Elected,” she added.

A breakdown of statistics shows 28% of the 162 new candidates to avail of this training or support represent Sinn Féin, followed by 13.5% Fine Gael, 13% Green Party, 12% Independents, 9% both  Fianna Fáil and Social Democrats, 6% Labour, 5% Aontu, while the remaining 4.5% is made up of other smaller parties.

SHE’s Communications Manager Mairead O’Shea pointed out that the first online training with ‘SHESchool’ began in May 2020 with 46 women registered. “From that modest base, SHE has continued to gain traction, and to date over 1,000 women from every county in Ireland have registered for our training modules. Some of those women now work as campaign managers for candidates while others simply wanted to learn more about local government.

“Since 2020 See Her Elected has also engaged with thousands of women across the country through our in-person events including seminars, local authority collaborations, secondary school workshops and communications masterclasses with political party women’s networks and caucuses,” O’Shea continued.

Tara Farrell, CEO of Longford Women’s Link, said: “With a record number of female candidates running in the local elections we hope to see a shift in the dial with an upwards trend. However, this stark under representation of women in local government is a deeply entrenched pattern over many decades, so it may take several election cycles to reach any sort of 50/50 parity. Supporting women to engage with local democratic structures in rural communities has always been a key focus of Longford Women’s Link and we are very proud to manage the delivery of the SHE Programme.” The Government-funded apolitical programme is jointly managed by Longford Women’s Link and 50:50 North-West, and is funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Key counties on SHE Watch List for Local Elections 2024:

Leitrim: Six female candidates ran in 2014 and now 13 women are running in 2024. Only three out of the 18 seats in Leitrim are held by women;

Louth: Eleven women ran for election in 2014, and now 27 female candidates will run in 2024. Currently 9 out of 29 seats on Louth County Council are held by women;

Mayo: Eleven women are going forward for election in a county where women only hold two out of 30 chamber seats;

Sligo: Nine women are putting themselves forward as candidates; only three out of 18 councillors are female;

Waterford: In 2019 two women were elected to Waterford City & County Council. Currently 22 women are running here;

Carlow: Twice as many female candidates running in 2024 (12) compared to just six in 2019.

SHE’s is currently tracking the numbers of female candidates on a county-by-county basis from 2014 to the 2024 Local Elections


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