WILL someone please tell me why we need political gender quotas in this country when women everywhere are literally taking over the world? The man in my life is getting very alarmed at the development, although he tries to laugh it off. Hilarious, like!
Now I can well understand why quotas might be needed in places where women are expected to be invisible, but surely not here where there is hardly a glass ceiling anyplace that hasn’t already been shattered.
As an ex-women’s libber from the seventies, I can’t get over the fact that I’m even feeling like this. I should really be over the moon at the prospect of the world being taken over by women rulers. But oddly, I have never been more earthed or more nonplussed. I don’t know how Cleopatra or Grannuaile - or Emmeline Pankhurst for that matter - might be feeling about this sudden proliferation of female world leaders, but lacklustre is about as much as I can muster up myself.
That isn’t to say that I’ve changed sides in the gender war or that I think the war might actually be over. No, I just think it’s time that all women stopped whining about glass ceilings and lack of opportunity, and put their stiletto heels through the ceilings instead.
Take the bull by the horns, like Hilary Clinton, Theresa May, Angela Merkel and, of course, the Ukrainian presidential hopeful, Nadya Savchenko, who sounds as if she could take on the globe single-handedly without losing a night’s sleep. And then there’s Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift who never had to put themselves before the people, but who probably wield more influence than any woman Prime Minster
“I don’t like people who spend their time whining – we have to act,” Nadya, the Ukrainian Premier in waiting, declared in an interview at the weekend. Not entirely my sentiments either, mind you, because, as everyone close to me could tell you, there is nothing I do better than whining. Peig Sayers wasn’t trotting after me!
But then, I never did harbour any ambitions to run the country, or even to run for promotion for that matter. Running was just not my thing, unless there was something after me.
The purpose of this article, however, is not to make anyone feel jumpy over all the women at the helm around the world – although I once had a male colleague at work who refused to fly in a plane when he heard it was being piloted by a woman – but to point out the silliness of our recently introduced quota system to encourage more women into politics. Now if there was a quota system in operation for women pilots, I don’t think I’d ever fly again. I’d find it very hard to trust my life to someone who had to get a leg up to the cockpit.
In Ireland, I’m told, women still face almost insurmountable obstacles when they try to become politically involved. Even at cumann and branch level the odds are stacked against them unless, like Cleopatra, they’re the scion of a political dynasty. But they’re not the only victims - if they could be called that - of the Old Boys’ Club. Even without quotas, women political wannabes, like their male counterparts, have a decisive head start on every disadvantaged and marginalised group in society, including the Travelling community.
So if we want to promote equality and open up more access through quotas, why on earth is gender getting priority at a time when women are making it in droves to the top? Frances could very well be our next Taoiseach and we’ll all take her very seriously –at least those of us, who won’t allow ourselves to be distracted by what she is wearing. Theresa May’s shoes are already vying with her domestic policy for attention.
As far as I know however, none of the world’s current batch of powerful women got a leg up by means of a quota system. Okay, Hilary got a dry run as First Lady several years ago, but I’m not sure whether that’s an advantage or a hindrance in this current race. But the obstacles supposedly faced by women here in getting nominated or elected sound pathetic compared to what the above mentioned Nadya from the Ukraine, faced, when she decided to become a fighter pilot.
Like the Central Bank, when I, having met all the criteria apart from one, applied for an executive job there many moons ago, Ukraine’s prestigious Air Force Academy was open only to young men. Nadya didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. She literally kicked in the door and at the age of 28 became the country’s first female combat pilot. I, on the other hand, just slunk away from the Central Bank, crestfallen, but then seeing what went on in that august establishment afterwards, I’m glad now that I didn’t kick down the door. I’d probably have been blamed for the bust.
So let’s dispense with this disastrous quota system for candidate selection then, and even the playing field for all those able young men who fell foul of the system at the last election.
Let the best man or the best woman win, and if the token women bite the dust in the process, then so be it.
As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing to beat a level playing field for bringing out the best qualities in all players, and that, in a nutshell, is why I joined the women’s liberation movement all those years ago.
Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to have to attend to more pressing matters, like assuring the man in my life that the world has nothing at all to fear from an unprecedented spate of female Prime Ministers. But I’ll also have to tell him that it’s no laughing matter either!