First female party leaders
Anne Dickson was the first female leader of a major political party in Northern Ireland, leading the Unionist Party of Northern Ireland from 1976 to 1981.
She initially represented the Ulster Unionist Party in the Parliament from 1969 until 1972 and was then an independent Unionist in the Assembly of 1973. She joined the Unionist Party of Northern Ireland in 1974 and was elected as a member of the Constitutional Convention from 1975 to 1976.
She was the first chair of the Northern Ireland Consumer Council from 1985 to 1990 and was awarded a CBE in 1990.
Dawn Purvis was the first female leader of the Progressive Unionist Party, succeeding the late David Ervine in 2007.
She was co-opted to the Assembly that year and then re-elected. She served on the Public Accounts and Finance Committees as well as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the Assembly Business Trust.
After establishing a number of All Party Groups, she brought the Local Government (Disqualification) Bill to Final Stage. She then created and led the Ad Hoc Working Group on Educational Disadvantage which reported its findings in 2011.
Clare Bailey became the first female leader of Green Party Northern Ireland in 2018.
She was first elected to the Assembly in 2016 and was appointed Chair of the Assembly Women’s Caucus in 2020.
She has chaired the All Party Group on Arts and has served on various committees, including the Justice Committee, the Business Committee, the Ad Hoc Committee on the COVID-19 Response and the AERA Committee.
In 2021, she brought forward a Climate Change Bill and the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) Bill.
Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick was the first female leader of the SDLP, serving in that role from 2010 to 2011.
She was MLA for South Down from 2003 to 2012, and served as Minister for Social Development from 2007 to 2010.
During her time in the Assembly, she served on the All Party Group on International Development, the Audit Committee and the Assembly and Executive Review Committee. She was twice elected as MP for South Down.
In 2019, she was appointed to the House of Lords. She is Chair and Director of the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building and a member of the Board of Co-operation Ireland.
First elected as an MLA in 2003, Naomi Long became the first female leader of the Alliance Party in 2016. She has previously served as Lord Mayor of Belfast, MP for East Belfast and Member of the European Parliament.
During her time in the Assembly, she has served on the Committee for Communities and as Deputy Chair of the Committee for the Centre.
Naomi Long has been the Minister of Justice since January 2020. During her tenure, she has brought forward the Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Bill, making coercive control a criminal offence in Northern Ireland.