Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78 Page 79 Page 80 Page 81 Page 82 Page 83 Page 84 Page 85 Page 86 Page 87 Page 88 Page 89 Page 90 Page 91 Page 92 Page 93 Page 94 Page 95 Page 96 Page 97 Page 98 Page 99 Page 100 Page 101 Page 102 Page 103 Page 104 Page 105 Page 106 Page 107 Page 108 Page 109 Page 110 Page 111 Page 112 Page 113 Page 114 Page 115 Page 116 Page 117 Page 118 Page 119 Page 120connect 2016 | 39 In 2011, just 15% of TDs elected at the general election in Ireland were women. This dismal number—25—was the highest number of women we had ever seen to date in our Parliament’s main chamber. Driven by the need to solve this problem we set up Women for Election to train, mentor and support women to get involved in politics and achieve our vision of an Ireland with balanced participation of women and men in political life. Since then, we have trained over 800 women across Ireland and the European Union, including 50% of women elected at lo- cal government level in Ireland and 40% of the newly elected female Members of Dáil Éireann. This work would not have been possible without The Ireland Funds’ support. In the run up to the 2016 General Election, with funding from The Ireland Funds Flagship Grants, Women for Election ran a series of training programs to develop the skills and resilience of female candidates. In Sep- tember 2015 candidates from all over Ireland attended EQUIP, a 3-day, residential political boot camp. EQUIP put candidates through the paces of an election campaign, with modules covering fundraising,crisismanagement,public speaking, campaign strategy and much more. Participants benefitted from the expertise of top class national and international train- ers, as well as learning from each other in workshops and hearing from several leading female politicians including former Tánaistí Joan Burton TD and Mary Harney and former Minister Mary O’Rourke. In addition to EQUIP, a series of Masterclasses provided female candidates the opportunity to hone their media skills ahead of the intensive demands of the three week campaign period. Candidates worked on developing their messages on key issues, building their confidence, and preparing them- selves for participation in panel debates, with local radio producers and presenters sharing top tips for engaging local media. Alongside that, Women for Election ran a national advo- cacy campaign urging voters to play their part in addressing the historic gender imbalance in Irish political life. The #electwomen campaign was hugely successful, gaining significant me- dia exposure for female candidates nationwide. Prior to polling day there were signs that indicated this election might prove record breaking for gender equality in Irish politics. There were more female candidates than ever before: 163, vs. 86 in 2011, an increase from 15% to 30%, with 20 (vs. 4 in 2011) of the 40 constituencies fielding more than 30% female candidates, giving voters true choice on the ballot paper. And indications were right—the results were a significant step forward for female representation in Irish public life with 35 women elected as TDs, bringing female repre- sentation in Dáil Éireann to 22%. Of those 35 women elected, 19 are first time TDs and we are proud that 40% of the newly elected female TDs are Women for Election Alumnae. Overall, 26% of first preference votes were cast for women: that means more than half a million people – 530,000 – voted for a woman number one. We are celebrating these results. Progress has been made and should be welcomed. However, we have a long way to go. Now, Women for Election is focused on build- ing the pipeline of women at community level who are ready and prepared to contest the local and European elections in 2019. Our project is a 20-year project, and we are just at the beginning. This year’s general election demonstrates that our model works, that there is huge appetite for more women in public life—among voters, political parties and female candidates—and that Ireland is not exceptional: with the right structures and supports we can right this historical imbalance. We could not have gotten here without The Ireland Funds, and we hope to work together to drive change in Irish politics for the good. — Women for Election Co-Founders, Niamh Gallagher and Michelle O’Donnell Keating Women for Election Co-Founders Niamh Gallagher & Michelle O’Donnell Keating