Labour launch annual Sign Up a Sister Campaign

Ivana Bacik TD
28 February 2023
  • Leader Ivana Bacik said parties must prioritise women’s participation in politics

In advance of International Women’s Day on March 8th, the Labour Party has today (Tuesday, February 28th) launched its annual Sign Up a Sister recruitment campaign to encourage more women into politics.

Launching the campaign, Labour leader Ivana Bacik said having conversations with women colleagues, friends and family is a great way to encourage more women into politics.

Labour Party General Secretary Billie Sparks said the historic imbalance of women’s representation in politics remains which is why she is committed to increasing the representation of women within the Labour Party.

Deputy Bacik said:

“The Labour Party has a proud history of choosing to challenge society and progress the rights of women in Ireland and we hope that our Sign Up A Sister campaign will inspire women who want to see real change in Ireland to join us.

“The participation of women in decision and policy making is crucial in order to highlight the issues that secure women’s general position within society. I was elected the 37th woman to Dáil Éireann out of 160 TDs in July 2021; this means that only 23% of our TDs are women, a figure which is far too few. In order to address this, measures must be introduced to overcome the ‘Five C’s – the obstacles we identified in a 2009 report on women’s participation in politics that I wrote for the Oireachtas Justice Committee. Those five are: Cash, Confidence, Culture, Childcare and Candidate Selection Procedures. We need to see urgent action from this government to address these barriers to women’s participation.

“As a parliamentary party, Labour has made the concerted decision to prioritise legislation to improve the lives of women in Ireland throughout since the general election, including a right to paid time off work for women who experience early miscarriage, a right to flexible work, bridging the gender pay gap, equality of access to period products, more robust patient safety measures, a secular national maternity hospital and many other measures to advance women’s economic and social rights’.

“We were particularly proud at the enactment of Brendan Howlin’s Coco’s Law in December 2020 to criminalise the sharing of intimate images without consent. Labour remains focused on pursuing policies that respond to the diverse needs of our changing society, and I look forward to welcoming new voices interested in addressing these challenges through our sign up a sister campaign.

“The Labour Party has had no shortage of feminist icons in its ranks over the years, and this March, we all remember the true feminist, former Education Minister Niamh Bhreathnach. Niamh was a true trailblazer for women, a passionate advocate for gender equality in our politics and played a vital role with Labour Women.

“Niamh’s legacy inspires us all every day which is why we are committed to advancing women’s economic equality every day, not just throughout the month of March.”

Billie Sparks, Labour Party General Secretary said:

“We need a feminist vision for the future. No one party will overcome the challenge of encouraging and elevating women in politics alone. Labour are committed as a party to create a template to inspire women to demand for more and progress Irish society to a more tolerant and inclusive future.

“Generations of women from the Labour Party have worked hard to move Irish society to embody more equal and fair structures. Our campaign to Sign Up a Sister acknowledges the fact that women in particular are reluctant to join political parties. We want to encourage our proud members to open conversations at home and in the workplace with women that they think may already identify with the Labour Party.

“Mentoring matters in politics, and we will assign specific public representatives to work with our new women candidates and members to support and elevate them within the party to ensure that fresh voices are brought to the fore and with us in building a strong political force on the left.

“In 1990, Labour’s Mary Robinson rocked the system instead of rocking the cradle by becoming Ireland’s first woman president. This March, celebrating International Women’s Day 2023, the Labour Party restates its unflinching commitment to fighting for women’s rights and feminist causes.”

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