Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald has said steps must be taken to increase the number of women in public life.The Sinn Féin Vice President said;
"While great advances have been made in recent years to increase the number of women in public life, much more work needs to be done.
"We need to increase the participation of women in politics at all levels. That should be the task for all of us in public life.
"For our part, Sinn Féin is committed to supporting and promoting women in politics. Of the five Sinn Féin ministers in the Executive, three are women. Three of our four MEPs in the European Parliament are also women.
"There is a need for real proactive steps to support women to enter and advance in political and public life.
"Gender quotas are one way of ensuring more representation of women in politics and should be introduced in all political arenas.
"Sinn Féin intend to bring forward gender equality legislation in the North to bring it into line with the south where, at the next general election, 30 per cent of candidates from each party will have to be women. This will rise to 40 per cent in subsequent elections.
"However, gender quotas in themselves will not address the problem. They must form part of a broader picture which will require a change of attitude from all political parties and government departments.
"It must be a genuine step-change and not merely an excercise in papering over the cracks and paying lip service to gender equality.
"Real and meaningful gender equality will only be achieved when the remaining barriers and obstacles are removed."