What Women Want: removing barriers to full participation in politics

Labour Party NI are holding a women’s policy conference on 22 March in The Pavilion at Stormont.

Labour Party in Northern IrelandThe all-day event – the same day as the Alliance Party conference – is free to attend and open to non-party members and men. Under the title of What Women Want? the organisers want to discuss “real solutions to barriers to full participation in politics”.

In Bronagh Hinds’ chapter of Everyday Life After the Irish Conflict: The Impact of Devolution and Cross-Border Cooperation she suggests:

… at the current rate of progress it would take sixteen election cycles, about sixty-five years, for women to become 50 per cent of MLAs, and thirteen elections, spanning fifty-two years, to reach gender balance in councils.

I recall Alex Kane explaining recently that ironically one of the barriers to more female candidates at elections are women on party selection committees who often select males ahead of females due to misplaced worries over childcare and other caring responsibilities.

Of course, full participation in politics goes beyond the gender of candidates. As well as workshops, debate and discussion, a number of invited speakers will share their opinion:

  • Baroness May Blood of Blackwater
  • Roberta Blackman-Woods (MP for Durham City and
  • Shadow Communities and Local Government Minister)
  • Cath Speight, Lisa Johnson, Hilary Perrin (GMB)
  • Breedagh Hughes (Royal College of Midwives)
  • Bev Craig (National Co-chair of Labour LGBT)
  • Laura Lee (International Union of Sex Workers)

No charge to attend the event, but registration is required. Tea and coffee provided; lunch available “at a reasonable” charge in The Pavillion. And there’s free childcare available on request.

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