We are calling for increased representation of women in political life in Northern Ireland.
As International Women’s Day 2015 is being celebrated across the world, the Equality Commission is calling for increased representation of women in political life in Northern Ireland.
“The Northern Ireland Assembly has the lowest female representation of all the legislatures in the UK with only a fifth of MLAs being women,” said Dr Evelyn Collins, CBE, Chief Executive of the Equality Commission.
“With elections looming this year and next, for Westminster and the Assembly, this is the time for all of us to encourage our political parties to engage in the wide range of lawful positive action for candidate selection open to them and to take steps to ensure that more women are being put forward for election. The importance of more equal representation of women in politics and the Assembly is not just a women’s issue, an Assembly more representative of the community is important in terms of legitimacy. As a society, we must also re-double our efforts to reach and engage with women in the community – in clubs and women’s groups, with girls of school age and in colleges, to encourage their interest in and appetite for active involvement in politics.”
She continued: ‘We also need to tackle the barriers which prevent many women from considering a career in politics. Issues such as a lack of childcare provision, poor work life balance, and a lack of financial resources inhibit many. There are too few female role models and those who do step forward often face exceptionally negative media scrutiny. In addition, there is a perception that politics is a male domain and that candidate selection processes are unfair to women."
Dr. Collins concluded: “There are practical steps that can and should be taken to address the underrepresentation of women and high levels of public support for an increase in the number of women in political life."
The Equality Commission contributed to the Inquiry on Women in Politics and the Northern Ireland Assembly, which was undertaken by the Assembly and Executive Review Committee; and looks forward to the debate on the report from this Inquiry on Monday 9 March which coincides with International Women’s Day.
Read more about our work on gender equality