Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said Ireland remains an unfinished democracy because of the under-representation of women in the Dáil.
Speaking at the 'Politics Needs Women' conference, Minister Flanagan said every effort must be made to encourage more women to contest elections.
Former President Mary McAleese asked what has not been done to change the culture that would see more women involved in politics.
The conference was held on the 100th Anniversary of the 1918 general election when Constance Markievicz was elected.
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The 1918 election, which was the first time women voted in Ireland, is considered a key moment in Irish history and led to the first Dáil and Irish independence.
It also saw the vote extended to women over the age of 30, as well as men over the age 21 who did not own property.
This week, both the Dáil and Seanad Éireann marked the anniversary of the election with special statements, and a motion pledging to ensure the legacy of the women of the suffrage movement is remembered.
More: Election '18
Earlier this year, the Vótáil 100 programme was established by the Houses of the Oireachtas to mark the centenary.
Secondary school students from around the country also joined politicians in the Convention Centre in Dublin for a conference entitled 'Politics Needs Women'.
Additional Reporting: Edel McAllister