5th February 2018
From across the political spectrum, elected female representatives gathered to mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 and celebrate the landmarks of the past 100 years by elected women.
The MPs, MLAs and councillors came to give their views on how more women can be supported into elected positions and public life.
Recognising that women are still underrepresented at every level of political representation, this event explored the barriers women face in holding a mandate and how they can be overcome for the next generation. It was a rare opportunity to share experiences and plan for the next century of women representatives in a non-partisan, positive way by those who already hold a mandate.
The event was opened by Kellie Armstrong MLA, Chair of Politics Plus, who talked of the work of Politics Plus in addressing female underrepresentation in political and civic life and looked forward to the next stage of the journey in supporting women in border areas.
Paula Bradley MLA, Chair of the Assembly Women’s Caucus, paid tribute to the local women of 1918, from across a broad political spectrum, who campaigned so hard and sacrificed so much so that women could have a voice. She also noted the success of the Assembly Women’s Caucus in being inclusive, supportive and collaborative. Describing it as a forum for ideas, learning and mutual discussion, Ms Bradley underlined her pride that every political party that has a female representative in the Northern Ireland Assembly has a seat in the Caucus.
Megan Fearon MLA, Deputy Chair of the Assembly Women’s Caucus, recognised the contribution that the women in attendance and all those who have come before in the past 100 years, in representing the electorate. She reflected the discussions in the room throughout the evening in highlighting practical steps that could be taken to pave the way for more women to become civic representatives and be elected to serve the public, thanked her Caucus colleagues for their help in fostering debate throughout the event, and undertook to bring those suggestions back to the Caucus.