Gender balance will help stamp out sexism

By Deborah Coleman - Straight Talking

Published 21/07/2015 | 00:00

Deborah Coleman.
Deborah Coleman.

A Limerick County Councillor has spoken out this week about the issue of sexism in politics.

Having been told in the past that women in politics were only there to make tea, 21-year old Lisa Marie Sheehy decided to share her experience since she was elected a year ago.

Her gender and young age combined must make it difficult for her to be accepted in a world often dominated by older males, many of whom have been on councils for decades.

Perhaps those who made such remarks feel they have the right to do so as they have held seats so long.

If so, this smacks of the sheer arrogance that got the country into the state it is in - politicians who think and act like they can do no wrong.

It is positive that younger women like Sheehy are taking an interest in politics and are rolling up their sleeves to get involved.

Having been elected by the people she has the right to hold her seat without being patronised and judged simply because she is a woman.

The only way to stamp out sexism is to have a more balance gender divide and this applies to politics and all other workplaces.

I can't imagine it is particularly easy for women in any role traditionally dominated by men.

Sheehy claims remarks were passed on her attire by another councillor.

A woman would never dream of passing remarks about a male colleague's workwear, yet it was deemed as acceptable to comment on Sheehy's clothing by a fellow councillor.

There will always be tensions amongst councillors and indeed all groups of elected representatives and that is politics.

The worry comes when energy and time is wasted on passing unnecessary remarks rather than focussed on important issues.

One would hope that if there are any tensions in council chambers that they arise as a result of genuine matters relating to the community and not pointless sexist belittling of female members.

Sheehy's comments are timely and reflect the need for more women in politics both on a local and national level.

Gender balance, however, should never prevent the best candidates from being selected because whether you are male are female is irrelevant as long as you can do the job.

Wexford People

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