An Irish organisation supporting women in politics has won a European award in Brussels.
See Her Elected (SHE) won the democracy category in the European Innovation in Politics Award.
The organisation was selected as a finalist out of 400 projects, chosen by 1,032 European citizens.
SHE Programme Manager Dr Michelle Maher said: "We are absolutely thrilled that See Her Elected has been selected as the overall winner in the democracy category in the Innovation in Politics Award. See Her Elected was established in 2019 so to reach this level of international recognition in a few short years is truly remarkable. The fact that we are the first Irish winners makes it even more special!
"This award also belongs to the women in rural Ireland who joined our online SHESchool in their hundreds to understand local government, active citizenship and explore how they could overcome the barriers that result in the low numbers of women in our county councils," Dr Maher said.
Thrilled to be crowned winner of @politicsawards Democracy category in Brussels tonight! @peterburkefg @MicheleMcGinley The first ever Irish entry to win this prestigious award! #PoliticsAwards21 pic.twitter.com/mfVekXTW18— SHE Programme (@SeeHerElected) December 1, 2021
Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage Peter Burke accepted the award in Brussels on behalf of the SHE organisation.
He said: "I am delighted with the news that SHE has won the overall Innovation in Politics Award in the democracy category, and from working with them over the last eighteen months, I am not surprised.
"SHE is a feminist, community-led, rural initiative to support women into politics. They were established in 2019 to tackle the lack of female representation in politics, particularly in the midlands and north-west where anything from 78% to 95% of the elected local authority councils are made up of men.
"SHE engages directly with women in their communities through the innovative SHESchool where participants learn more about local government and explore how they can overcome the barriers that face many women who are interested in participating in electoral politics.
"It is a priority of the Irish Government to achieve gender and diversity balance in both local and national politics. In the last year, I have allocated funding to Women for Election, our local authorities, the National Women's Council of Ireland, political parties and organisations such as SHE.
"We have commissioned research on the barriers to engagement in politics to inform future policy and recently improved the terms and conditions for Councillors. I will soon bring forward proposals for maternity leave and supports for Councillors, which is a long overdue policy requirement."
The awards ceremony is organised by the Innovation in Politics Institute, an organisation promoting strengthening democracy in Europe.