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15 March 2007 Edition

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Women under-represented in Assembly

Sinn Féin South Down MLA Caitríona Ruane has expressed disappointment that only 18 women members were elected to the Six County Assembly on 7 March.
“It is disappointing that women will make up no greater proportion of those elected to the Assembly in 2007 than in 2003. We still have a long way to go before women are equally represented in decision-making in business, political life or in senior civil service positions”, Ruane said.
“Inequality in decision-making, the continued gender pay gap and the continued scandal of gender-based violence and of trafficking in human beings shows the importance of taking real and practical steps at local, national and EU level”, she said.
Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún added that inequality between men and women is “as real as ever and must be tackled head-on by all in power”.
De Brún’s comments come as the European Parliament debates a report on the ‘Roadmap for equality between men and women’ drawn up by the European Commission. The report on the European Commission’s proposals says the right of equal pay for men and women must be properly enforced. Across the 27 states of the EU women earn on average 15% less than men for doing the same tasks. The Sartori report would also like to see greater paternity leave encouraged and expanded so that it is not just women who stay at home when couples have children.
Research has shown that in the 20-49 age group, employment rates fall by 15% among women if they have a child and rise by 6% in men.
Speaking today from Strasbourg, Ms de Brún placed the question of inequality between the sexes in a wider context seeing it as ultimately “a question of equal rights for all in Europe. Equality between men and women is not something that should be added on as an afterthought. It should be central to every EU and national programme.”
De Brún added her voice to the call for “the launch of practical pilot projects analysing women’s access to EU programmes, the effectiveness of specific reserves for women or projects proposed by women, and the impact on the general EU budget on gender equality .
“I also welcome the emphasis given to the needs of migrant women in this report and the clear unambiguous statement that equal pay for equal work is still not a reality”, she said.
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