Belfast Telegraph

International Women's Day 2016: This female MLA is calling for a political revolution at Stormont

By Claire Cromie

International Women's Day has been marked in Northern Ireland with the launch of a cross-party group of female MLAs who will lobby for greater female representation at Stormont.

The Assembly Women’s Caucus was launched by Karen McKevitt MLA, who said the group will work within their political parties to enhance the role of women in public and civic life.

It coincides with the theme of this year's International Women's Day, #PledgeForParity, which focuses on ensuring gender equality more quickly.

“For too long, the politics of the North has been represented by three words – pale, stale and male," said Mrs McKevitt.

"Even though women make up 51% of the population in Northern Ireland, only 21% of MLAs are female. That’s just not good enough and we all have a role to play in breaking down the barriers to more women entering political life."

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She said the Assembly Women’s Caucus's goal is to provide support and assistance to women entering public life, regardless of their background or political views.

"In a society where women remain the primary carers, it can be difficult for many to choose an intensive career in politics where childcare options are much more limited.

"We need a gender-based political revolution in the North. Every political party can do more to promote women within their ranks. The SDLP was the first Executive party with a female leader, we have a female General Secretary and I’m proud to be the party’s Assembly Whip. But we, too, recognise the need to keep doing more.

“I look forward to working with female MLAs on a cross party basis to improve gender representation in public life.”

Tonight Belfast City Hall will light up green and purple for International Women's Day.

Hundreds of marchers took to Belfast's streets on Saturday in a rally with speeches, celebrations and marchers dressed in period costume to reflect the influence of the Women's Suffragette movement.

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