MinisterofStateforSportPatrickO’Donovanhasannouncedtheintroductionofnewgenderquotasto sportingbodiesinIrelandtohelp “breakthelastglassceiling.”
Under new rules, which O’Donovan hopes to introduce in the new year, 30% of all board members jobs will be occupied by women. If sporting bodies fail to comply and do not meet the quota as outlined they will face cuts to their State funding.
“This is a challenge for sporting organisations,” said O’Donovan. “I hope they use this as an opportunity to comply, we are giving them plenty of time to comply.
The move, nicknamed ‘The Bonfire of the Blazers’, mirrors steps taken in other jurisdictions and developments in other areas of sport. Last January the state of Victoria in Australia announced it was cutting off funding to sporting bodies whose boards did not have at least 40% female representation.
An analysis by the Irish Times also published earlier this year revealed that among the three most popular and heavily-funded sporting bodies in the country, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), only the IRFU has a woman at Director level.
“We are asking them [sporting bodies] to use the two year period to identify people of value to them in developing sport,” O’Donovan added.
Organisations of ten or more employees will have until 2019 to comply with the new measure, while smaller bodies getting an extra year’s grace.
‘The exact time for quotas’
Cork camogie All Star Anna Geary welcomed the proposal and said: “There are improvements being made, you can see changes, so I would look at these gender quotas as the exact same. This is about how we can better our sporting organisations across the country and the world so that younger people don’t just have role models on the pitches, they have them off the pitch as well.”
Former Irish women’s rugby captain Fiona Coghlan described quotas as a “short term solution to a bigger problem”.
Following the announcement the FAI wrote in a statement:
“In 2016 following consultation and negotiation, the Women’s Football Association of Ireland disbanded and the administration of women’s football came under the remit of the FAI. Part of this negotiating process was to have a guaranteed position on the Board of the Association from women’s football, within the next 12 months.
“A number of important staff and volunteer positions are held by women within the Association including: FAI Company Secretary, Director of Business Partnerships, Head of Legal and Club Licensing, HR Manager, Chair of the Audit Committee and Chair of the Women’s Football Committee. In addition the women’s game has been represented on Council for the past 20 years. Council is of course the ultimate governing body of the Association with power to remove the Board.
“The promotion of women in football, whether that be participation, administration or volunteerism, is essential and central to the work of the FAI. However, it would be inappropriate for the FAI to comment on the Minister’s proposals at this time, since the FAI has not yet been consulted in relation to the proposals.”