In June Taoiseach Varadkar announced his new cabinet. It was very disappointed to see that, in line with many Fine Gael leaders before him, he chose to give most of the senior positions to his male colleagues. He appointed 7 female ministers out of a possible 33 positions and 3 female junior ministers out of 19.
Clearly these numbers are not enough. Women occupy 22% of the Dail Seats. These appointments are utterly unfair and lack the gender balanced Dail often promised by Fine Gael, and promised by them IF they win the next election. Actions speak louder than words.
The lack of female presence in the Dail means that topics on women’s issues (such as health and abortion) are being decided by a male majority. Women make up 50.08% of the Irish population yet have little say in the running of our country.
Following the announcement of his government, Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada visited Ireland in July. Trudeau explained to Varadkar the importance of a gender balanced parliament, to which Taoiseach Varadkar responded “I consider myself a feminist”. If this wasn’t a slap in the face to Irish women I don’t know what it.
Taoiseach Varadkar’s declaration that he, himself, is a feminist is so unfounded that it is entirely unbelievable. He is a feminist yet he appointed so few women that their voices are unlikely to be heard. He is a feminist yet he ensure his male colleagues were duly appointed to senior positions over women…the math simply does not add up.
When confronted about his male majority cabinet Varadkar responded by saying that his appointments had to be diverse, he could not just appoint women. According to the Taoiseach women are a minority group…Irish women were concerned about gender equality in the Dail, instead women were labelled as a minority, a huge step backwards. This fight is about EQUALITY not diversity….
I had great hopes for Taoiseach Varadkar’s leadership, greatly encouraged by the fact that he is an openly gay man and has great potential. Unfortunately , in his limited time in office he has failed to meet expectations and has greatly disappointed in terms of women’s rights. However, I hope that in the future Taoiseach Varadkar makes a difference to gender equality in the right way. I still have hopes for the future of his leadership, and I am hoping that they are not ill founded.