Longford women among those taking part in virtual school on local politics

Sarah Smyth

Reporter:

Sarah Smyth

Longford women among those taking part in virtual school on local politics

The SHE (See Her Elected) Programme which aims to empower women in the rural constituencies of the North West and the Midlands to engage in electoral politics.

Over 40 women, including a number from Longford, are taking part in an innovative online initiative aimed at raising awareness of how local government works and how decisions are taken that impact our everyday lives.  The programme is being run as part of #SHESchool from the SHE (See Her Elected) Programme which aims to empower women in the rural constituencies of the North West and the Midlands to engage in electoral politics. Such has been the success of the programme, #SHESchool is now running two separate programmes to meet demand.

“We have been bowled over by the reaction to #SHESchool,” explained SHE Development Officer Dr. Michelle Maher. “There is a huge appetite for information about local government structures and how they work. Our participants come from all walks of life who want to understand why decisions are made a local level and how they can have their say.”

Among the topics covered are – structures of local county councils and how they operate, the ways in which women can get involved in decision-making without necessarily running for election as well as electoral systems. #SHESchool is a relaxed introduction to local political life with plenty of discussion and chat online. Due to the popularity of the programme, plans are underway to deliver it again for the month of June. 

#SHESchool students are very happy so far. Kathryn, a Longford-based participant says ‘‘Understanding how local power is used, how decisions are made and how to affect change politically, as a regular citizen, has always been a huge gap in my knowledge and understanding. It seems so complicated and inaccessible! SHE makes it clear and easy to see my rights and responsibilities as a citizen, and how to go about influencing change”.

The SHE Project is collaboration between Longford Women’s Link and 50:50 North West and is funded by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.  Until now the SHE Project has been building up connections with women’s networks around the region and fearing that the Covid-19 crisis could undermine efforts to get more women involved in politics, the group decided to launch an online school.  “The Covid-19 crisis has changed everything and many women may now be asking themselves if they should take the leap into political life at this crucial time in our history,” said Michelle  ‘We want to give them the tools they will need to make a difference in their local communities’.

 

For more information check out www.seeherlected.ie