Politics Plus held its inaugural Ambassadors’ Forum on Friday 10 June 2016. The Forum has been designed to provide a platform for collaboration between politicians, experts and leaders of the public and third sector, to support the promotion of women in political and public life and progressing the gender parity. The collective work of Politics Plus and the wider Northern Ireland Assembly, has proved successful in furthering gender equality.
Politics Plus has led the way with their innovative programmes, such as Women in Public Life. They have also made waves internally, having worked to establish the Speaker’s Reference Group on a Gender Sensitive Assembly and the first Northern Ireland Assembly Women’s Caucus. To bring these endeavours together, Politics Plus have created the Ambassadors’ Forum. The forum has been designed to ensure continued support for and to build on initiatives addressing the under-representation of women and gender imbalance in the political arena and public life. The forum is due to be held twice a year.
In October 2015, Politics Plus launched the Women in Public Life Programme which is designed to assist participants by increasing their range of competencies, develop strategies and build networks to enhance the influence of women in public sector organisations. The first cohort has now completed the programme, with the second cohort well underway. The first Ambassadors’ Forum event offered a unique opportunity to celebrate the successes of the participants.
Dr Gareth McGrath, Executive Director of Politics Plus, said:
“I’m proud to be part of an organisation that has endeavoured to promote gender-equality; which is only one facet of the work of Politics Plus. The Ambassadors’ Forum will allow us to build on these achievements”
Among the guests, MLAs’ attended to demonstrate their support including; Claire Hanna MLA, Caitríona Ruane MLA, Steve Aiken MLA and Kellie Armstrong MLA.
Following opening comments from Dr Gareth McGrath, Executive Director of Politics Plus, guests heard from Lesley Hogg, the incoming Chief Executive of the NI Assembly. Lesley shared with the guests her experiences having successfully progressed through senior roles in public life. Lesley also showed her support for the work of Politics Plus and our aims to address gender imbalance and strengthen the role of women in political and public life.
Caitríona Ruane MLA, throughout her presentation also demonstrated her support for the role of women in political and public life, stating that ‘A moment of change is happening’. This change can be progressed through support for the NI Assembly Women’s Caucus and the range of programmes that are delivered by Politics Plus.
Professor Joan Ballantine, Ulster University presented findings from her research entitled ‘An investigation of Gender Equality Issues at the Executive Level of the Northern Ireland Public Sector’. This report provided current evidence that indeed women are under-represented in senior positions within public life in Northern Ireland. A copy of this research can be found at the following link: https://www.executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk/publications/investigation-gender-equality-issues-executive-level-northern-ireland-public-sector-0
Guests then engaged in a motivational and open mic session with Billy Dixon, Personal Branding Expert. Participants from the first Women in Public Life Programme were able to share with the next group of participants some tips and advice on getting the most out of the programme.
The event itself concluded with a viewing of the Women in Public Life Participant video and an awards ceremony for participants in the Women in Public Life 2015 programme. Participants were delighted to receive a trophy and certificate to acknowledge their commitment to the programme. It is anticipated that the Ambassadors’ Forum will continue to raise awareness and ensure support in progressing gender parity in political and public life.