100 years on, but lack of progress remains in key issues, says Armstrong

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has said 100 years since the Representation of people act kick started the inclusion of women in the political arena, many still feel disenfranchised today by the lack of progress on a number of key issues.

The MLA for Strangford – who also chairs the Assembly’s Politics Plus scheme which actively encourages greater participation of women in the political arena – Kellie added women are still ‘massively underrepresented’ in politics, making up only 30 percent of MLAs and 25 percent of Councillors.

Kellie Armstrong MLA said: “100 years ago today marked the beginning of change for women everywhere. Yes voting rights were originally limited to women over 30 years old, who either had property, were related to a man in local government, or who lived in a university constituency – but within 10 years women over 21 would have the same voting rights as men.

“Yet in 2018 many frustrations remain and we have to ask why so many women of all ages feel disenfranchised by the lack of progress on issues impacting their day to day lives.

“Childcare remains a key barrier to women seeking access to employment and education, more could be done in schools to education everyone in gender equality, the gender pay gap remains significant in places and not enough progress has been made on domestic and sexual violence legislation.

“I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today without the bravery, strength and determination of all those women who fought to secure equal rights for my generation and the next and we all have the responsibility to make sure this sacrifice does not go unappreciated.

“We still have a long way to go to secure full equality for women and over the past 12 months it has been fantastic to see women come together, backing each other, lifting each other up and supporting each other in darker times. The creation of the METOO and Times UP campaigns are testament to this.

“Alliance recognises the job still to be done – and can see the worrying lack of progress due to the lack of an Assembly. Our women’s network wrote to then Equality Minister Justice Greening to encourage her to include the voices of NI women in her report to CEDAW. She didn’t. So the anniversary of the momentous date now sees local women out of step with the rest of the UK.”

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