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It's time for the Executive to address childcare

The Women's Resource and Development Agency (WRDA) welcomes the attention given by the Belfast Telegraph to the increasing problem of childcare (Life, August 15).

The women's sector has been active in lobbying on this issue for years as we continue to wait for the long-promised childcare strategy to emerge from the Executive.

In November 2009, WRDA brought 60 women from Protestant, Catholic, urban and rural communities to Stormont where they called upon MLAs to take responsibility for the impending crisis in childcare.

This year, a wide number of women's organisations, together with the Equality Commission and the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, produced a Women's Manifesto for the Assembly elections.

In this we called on politicians to:

e Urge the Executive to give priority to the provision and resourcing of affordable, accessible childcare;

e Demand that a lead department is nominated to take responsibility for ensuring adequate childcare provision, and;

e Press for the introduction of an integrated childcare strategy which covers all aspects of early years and childcare provision.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK to lack a lead department with responsibility for childcare. This is a problem not just for women, but for society.

DR MARGARET WARD

Director, Women's Resource and Development Agency

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