14/11/2003

Equality Commission back joint 'women’s manifesto'

Launched this week in the run up to the Assembly election a women’s manifesto has set out a number of demands in key equality areas that women want the new Assembly to tackle.

The Women's Manifesto prepared by the Northern Ireland Equality Commission, the Women’s Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Women’s Policy Group, challenges the incoming Assembly to place gender equality in the mainstream of policy making.

Annie Campbell, Commissioner for the Equality Commission, said: “Women in Northern Ireland make up a diverse group in terms of age, social class, life experience, racial and ethnic background, sexual orientation, disability and religious and political belief.

“This Manifesto recognises that diversity and women will recognise the topics it contains. While women have made huge gains, society here does not come near to being equal.”

Katrina Cooley of ICTU added: “Women in Northern Ireland are at greater risk of poverty at all stages of their lives. They earn 81% of men’s earning and are more likely to be concentrated in low paid, low status jobs and work part-time. It is therefore vital that political parties and politicians answer these demands to ensure that women have the resources to lift themselves out of poverty.

“The Women’s Manifesto has been endorsed by numerous women’s groups and organisations. This shows the determination of women here to work for the removal of the barriers that prevent their full and equal participation in society.”

Margaret Ward of the Women’s Policy Group said: “The reality is that women are not represented in decision making roles or in politics – only 14% of the NI Assembly were women. More has to be done to ensure that women are represented at all levels of public life, if they are to get their voices heard. A new Assembly brings with it the opportunity to place the issues highlighted in this Manifesto at the heart of Government policy.”

The key gender equality areas highlighted in the Women’s Manifesto are:
  • Economic Independence
  • The Community Women’s Sector
  • Women and Decision-Making
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health
  • Domestic Violence
Copies of the Women’s Manifesto are available from the Equality Commission or visit www.equalityni.org for further information.

(SP)

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