More Women in Politics a must, says Assembly Committee

Session: 2014/2015

Date: 09 March 2015

Reference: AERC 02/14/15

The Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive Review Committee has today (Monday 9 March) launched its report into ‘Women in Politics and the Northern Ireland Assembly’.

The report, which is the culmination of a nine month long inquiry, includes a number of recommendations to make the political landscape a more welcoming place for women. The report also sets out ways of encouraging greater participation at both local and national levels and in public life in general.

Speaking after the launch of the report, Committee Chairperson Stephen Moutray MLA said: “The Committee as a whole was very keen to carry out this important and timely inquiry. There can be little doubt that, with only 21 female MLAs, making up just under 20% of all MLAs in the Assembly, much more needs to be done to encourage women to enter the political sphere.

“At the core of our report is the need to develop and promote a strategic and coordinated approach by the Northern Ireland Assembly, individual political parties and the Northern Ireland Executive to increase the participation of women. Only through mutual cooperation can we create cohesive, tactical and practical plans to enhance and strengthen the contribution of women politically.”

Mr Moutray continued: “Our report is also recommending that political parties should consider the introduction of measures to increase the number of female candidates being put forward for election. We believe that this would be an important step forward and we would encourage all political parties to reflect upon and give this particular proposal serious consideration.

As part of its Inquiry, the Committee visited the Welsh and Icelandic Parliaments, both of which have put into place a number of successful initiatives to increase the participation of women.

The Committee also had a ‘call for evidence’ which resulted in a number of informative responses and held a roundtable event in which 60 stakeholders participated. The findings from these consultations and visits have been incorporated into the Committee’s report which recommends that, where viable, best practice measures from local, national and international legislatures should be adopted by the Assembly.

Mr Moutray said: “The Committee is keen that the Assembly conducts a gender survey across all MLAs to identify the key barriers and challenges faced by women. Based on the feedback received, a gender action plan should be developed to outline specific and targeted measures to enhance the experience of those women already elected to the Assembly and those who may enter in the future.

Mr Moutray concluded: “Women play a central and equal role in society generally and not only is it important, it is imperative that this is reflected in political life. Our report is not the solution, but it is without doubt, a crucial and important blueprint towards creating the necessary environment for women to participate and thrive in local political life.”

ENDS

The Assembly and Executive Review Committee today (Monday 9 March) launched its report on ‘Women in Politics and the Northern Ireland Assembly’. Joining the Committee Chairperson Stephen Moutray MLA (L) and Committee Member Paula Bradley MLA (R) is Dame Rosemary Butler, Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales. As part of its Inquiry the Committee visited Wales to learn more about the initiatives and policies spearheaded by Dame Rosemary to increase the participation of women in politics. Women currently make up over 40% of all membership in the National Assembly of Wales, making it the most representative legislature in the UK.  

Notes to Editors:
1. The full Committee report into ‘Women in Politics and the Northern Ireland Assembly’ can be accessed on the Northern Ireland Assembly website via http://nia1.me/2ii

2. The Committee consulted with a number of stakeholders throughout the inquiry. You can view all submissions here.

3. On 23 October 2015, the Committee held a round table stakeholder event at which it heard from leading voices from the political, academic and the community and voluntary sectors. You can read more on the event and watch our highlights video here.

Committee Membership

Stephen Moutray MLA (Chairperson)
Pat Sheehan MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Alex Attwood MLA
Paula Bradley MLA
Gregory Campbell MLA
Paul Givan MLA
Trevor Lunn MLA
Raymond McCartney MLA
Sean Rogers MLA
Caitríona Ruane MLA
Robin Swann MLA

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