WRDA Director attends "Women in Leadership North & South" IBIS event
On Monday 6th July, WRDA Director Anne McVicker attended an event in Dublin’s European Parliament office titled ‘Women in Leadership North and South’. Over 100 women and a few men listened to Frances Fitzgerald TD and Minister for Justice & Equality talk about her experience as a women in politics and government, and how she overcame some of the traditional obstacles which face the majority of women in leadership positions in Ireland north and south. This was followed by three panels of speakers focusing on: • Women’s Leadership in Political and Public Life • Civic Leaders and the Leadership Pipeline • Political Leadership The first panel, chaired by Dr Melanie Hoewer UCD, discussed and highlighted the low levels of women in decision making roles with input from Prof Yvonne Galligan QUB, Prof Joan Ballantine UU, Senator Ivana Bacik TCD and Fiona Buckley UCC. There were many similarities between the north and south, while Westminster’s statistics were much higher (especially since the recent 2015 election) and the Scottish and Welsh assemblies were forging ahead with greater numbers of women represented in political & public life. The second panel chaired by Prof Elizabeth Meehan QUB/UCD discussed various initiatives and examples of women engaged in civic society crucially in the leadership pipeline. The contributors included Kate McCullough NIWEP, Grainne McVeigh Women’s Inspiration Network NI, Louise Glennon NWCI and Niamh Gallagher Women for Election. This was an uplifting session, creating many opportunities to discuss networking and carry out some ‘joined up work’ over lunch. In the third and final session chaired by Bronagh Hinds DemocraShe, the panellists shared their testimonies and stories of being politicians and how this has impacted on their families’ lives. Paula Bradley DUP & Caitriona Ruane SF shared the panel with Senators Averil Power & Kathryn Reilly and Mary Mitchell-O’Connor TD/FG. One of the initiatives in the Dáil has been to take a photograph of all women TDs ever elected in Ireland, which makes up less than half the seats in the parliament and really paints the picture of gender inequality. The conference agreed that this initiative should be replicated in Stormont, particularly in light of the recent assembly review of women in the NI Assembly which revealed that Stormont ranks 70th in the world in terms of women’s representation.