Anna Lo said, “I was delighted to open the launch the Women’s Fund for Northern Ireland. It is so encouraging to see this fund come forward and I am inspired by the initiative and innovation the organisers have taken in setting it up.
“There is a Chinese saying that ‘women hold up half the sky’. this is most certainly true in Northern Ireland where more than half the population is made up of women and girls. Despite outnumbering our male counterparts in numbers, we still face many barriers in everyday life and the figures are quite startling.
“In Stormont, there are 108 MLAs but only 19 of these are currently female. That is just under 18%. This is hardly surprising when you take into account that in the last Assembly election only 17% of all the candidates were female and following the 2011 Council elections women only accounted for 24% of all the Councillors in Northern Ireland. While I am proud to stand for a Party who had the highest proportion of female candidates, it is clear that more needs to be done to create a more female friendly political environment.
“Women face a wide range of barriers- cultural, social and economic and in Northern Ireland we need more women to be leaders in all walks of life. For a truly Shared Future, Northern Ireland needs to address the gender imbalance and support the personal development of our girls and women.
“This fund has the potential to make a truly positive difference in the lives of our local women. Supporting women in this way through developing confidence, leadership capacity and key skills can start to dismantle the hurdles which often can prevent women from advancing in life.
“The Women’s Fund will open doors that otherwise would have remained shut and I was honoured to be at the launch to offer my support to such a worthwhile initiative.”