I don’t want quotas. Enda Kenny may want them. Other women may want them. I don’t. I think it’s a farcical idea. It’s an insult to women.
In my mind it’s akin to a harried husband saying “yes pet” to his wife while she’s listing out the domestic chores he must complete on a Saturday afternoon while remembering to load the dishwasher.
Enda and his cohorts are saying “Look love, you don’t have the balls (pun most definitely intended) to get to what we consider the top echelons of so were going to make it easy for you”. He’s even going to throw in some media training so you look and sound good to the public. See, ladies, he’ll even make you pretty.
The quota issue has been brought front-and-centre by an article in the Independent this last weekend leaking Kenny’s “secret list of women to win the next general election”.
The quotas are not just limited to political parties; boards of various museums and charities are in on the action and have been for some time. They have to be, the legislation states that if they don’t have a balance they’ll lose part of their State funding.
As always, the intention is good, the mindset is in the correct place but, as is an all- too-common trait emanating from our seat of power, the major fault lies in the implementation.
What message is Kenny sending to the coming generations of women by ensuring that there are a certain percentage of women in positions of power purely based on quotas? It is a dangerous precedent to set, “Don’t work ladies, the quota will get you in”.
On one hand I can see why Kenny List of Ladies is taking the opportunity of being fast tracked for the next general election. I’m sure they think that any opportunity must be grabbed eagerly with both hands (it should) and that they can change perceptions from the inside (possibly). The larger part of me is ashamed of them for grabbing the opportunity so eagerly.
I may be taking a major liberty but I’ll speak for some if not the larger majority of women when I say that we don’t want anything handed to us on a plate. I may grumble after a particularly difficult day that I wish it could be easier, that there was a quicker way to rise through the ranks to where I want to be; when I take a minute I realise this isn’t true. I want to take the more challenging path; I want people to know that I’ve worked hard to get where I am.
What of the current crop of female T.D.’s? Those women worked, they weathered the criticism thrown at them, and they’ve survived. What do they think of the younger generation’s “helping hand?”
What of the men? We have legislation ensuring there is no sexual discrimination in hiring policies or the workplace; this for the most part has been used to protect women (my feelings on the female rights landscape in this country are another issue entirely), but in the future could it be used to protect men against quotas?
The media are currently shouting misogyny at every opportunity. If a political party has two candidates for a seat and the man is clearly the more qualified, perhaps the more likely to secure the votes, but the woman gets the seat, what is that going to do to the male psyche?
This, allowing for a certain level of hyperbole, giving a job to a lesser qualified female, is only going to breed a misogynist culture. This in turn will only serve to toughen the stance of the hardcore feminists, those that appear to hate men for no reason other than the fact that they are men; which is only going to perpetuate the cycle for generations to come.
Enda Kenny and whoever succeeds him, be it next week, next year or in 2016, needs to address the issue from a school level.
Address the issue of involvement in politics across both genders. It’s been a long-held position for me that those entering the political arena should have minimum relevant educational qualifications. This needs to be impressed on both sexes.
What is it going to do to the female psyche hearing discussions on feminism in one class and learning of quotas benefitting them in another? Yes, the issues of quotas is only supposed to be a temporary measure, but let’s fact it, this is Ireland; we’re not the best at sticking to timelines and quotas could still be here when my grandchildren are teenagers.
Classes should be taught to reflect the achievements of both men and women. Yes, I know that the majority of historical decisions were as a result of men but take a class to celebrate what women did. Plant a seed in the minds; the curious ones will investigate further and these are the ones we want taking control.
Women do have a lot to give in any position of power, we think differently, we are more empathic and sometimes we can be more ruthless than our male counterparts.
Foster these qualities and you won’t need legislation to guarantee our place past the glass ceiling.