6 February 2018
The Equality Commission delivered a workshop examining approaches to advancing gender equality and overcoming barriers to participation to an audience of policy makers from government departments, charities and political parties.
It was recognised that one of the most far-reaching changes since the Representation of the People Act 1918 has been the opportunity for women to be heard in society and yet building gender into the foundations of any services remains a challenge.
Louise Warde Hunter, Gender Champion of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, set the scene for the event and shared her experiences in her workplace. She spoke of the challenges and victories to date and the work that was still to be done.
The event brought together those who develop policy with local government, Departments, political parties and the Third Sector and considered the impact policies have on women. There was information on gender mainstreaming as well as the definitions and obligations of having regard and due regard to duties and Section 75 requirements. There were also practical considerations on how to promote participation in advancing gender equality. The representation of women in public life and in employment were explored more fully and the barriers to participation examined as well as recommendations on how to established a more balanced picture. Participants were invited to discuss how they could make practical changes to their own policies and operating environments in order to be part of the change in promoting gender equality.
It also created a networking opportunity for those who lobby for change and those who make policy decisions.
With thanks to Roisin Mallon and Paul Oakes of the Equality Commission Northern Ireland for their excellent presentations and oversight of the session.