A special event to celebrate the centenary of Irish women getting the right to vote has heard calls for gender quotas to be introduced for next year's local elections.

Gender quotas currently apply to general elections but today's call has been welcomed by the National Women's Council of Ireland and the non-partisan Women for Election advocacy group.

Lá na mBan took place 100 years ago today on 9 June 1918.

On that day thousands of women marched on Dublin City Hall, and other important buildings throughout the country, to sign a pledge condemning conscription, demonstrating the power of female, grassroots activism.

Today the Collins Institute, a policy think tank supported by Fine Gael, held a special centenary event where there were calls for further supports to encourage greater participation by women across all aspects of Irish life, including business and politics.

The event heard calls for gender quotas to be introduced for local election candidates from 2019, as an extension of the introduction of gender quotas for candidates in general elections which were introduced six years ago.

It has also recommended the introduction of maternity leave for TDs and Senators and making Leinster House a more family-friendly work environment for politicians.

Marion Coy, Chair of the Collins Institute said: "One hundred years after getting the right to vote, Irish women are still active in the fight for equality in politics, business and the wider society.

"The rhetoric around equality needs to be matched by specific actions that enable women to fully participate in employment and fully advance in their careers, including when those careers are in the political sphere."

A number of women's groups have welcomed today's call for gender quotas to be implemented for candidates in next year's local elections.

Reacting to the call, Ciairín DeBuis, CEO of the Women for Election group, said: "Local councils are important in their own right in terms of the administration of local government, but also as a pipeline for candidates in Dáil elections.

"Currently the legislation only applies to Dáil elections and we would welcome if a mechanism could be found for local authorities to have gender quotas. It is equally as important to have women in politics at local and national level."

Adopting a similar tone, Orla O'Connor, Director of the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) stressed the importance of equal women's participation in leadership positions.

She said: "The introduction of gender quotas for candidates, as advocated by NWCI for many years, resulted in an increase in the number of TDs to a historical high of 22% following the 2016 general election."

Ms O'Connor added: "All indicators suggest that women’s representation in Dáil Éireann is likely to continue to increase over the course of the next elections to reach a critical mass of 30%. This success must now be replicated in the upcoming local elections in 2019 by introducing gender quotas for candidates."

The Collins Institute also called for increased use of technology and digital hubs to facilitate remote working, allowing both men and women greater flexibility to balance work and home life. 

This call has been welcomed by the NWCI.

The German Ambassador to Ireland, Deike Potzel and the Estonian Ambassador to Ireland, Kristi Karelsohn were among the speakers at today's Lá na mBan event.