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Gildernew attends ‘Championing Women’ Conference

25 January, 2008

Sinn Féin Minister for Rural Development, Michelle Gildernew MP MLA, has attended a conference entitled 'Championing Women' hosted by the Chief Executives' Forum, Women Chief Executives' Group.

The conference focused on key issues relating to gender equality. The Minister praised the work of rural women and underlined her Department's commitment to supporting the role of women in rural areas.

She said:

"Rural women play an important role in today's society. As well as contributing to the wellbeing of their families, rural women play a vital part in the development of rural economies. However, lack of economic opportunities, networks and training infrastructure can act as barriers to participation and pose a particular problem for women in rural areas."

"My Department is therefore committed to improving the quality of rural life. For example the provision of accessible, affordable childcare facilities for people in rural communities is something that is long overdue. This is something that would not only make a positive impact on women but on the economic, social and well being of all families with young children.

"In June this year I began taking a fresh look at the question of rural childcare by founding a Rural Childcare Stakeholders' Group. Setting up the group was the first step towards more accessible childcare for rural families. I also hope the increased funding for rural life in the Programme for Government will help progress this goal."

The Rural Childcare Stakeholders' Group will identify the main factors affecting access to childcare in rural areas, including special-needs childcare, and consider ways to advance matters. A report will also be produced detailing current difficulties in childcare provision in rural areas and recommendations will be made on how current and future provision can be improved.

The Minister also encouraged women to become actively involved in the 2007-2013 Rural Development Programme.

"The new Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 will endeavour to support initiatives that will offer women vocational training and re-skilling. Women can also make a positive and significant contribution by playing an active part in identifying what is needed at a local level.

"I am committed to vibrant, sustainable, rural communities of which women are the backbone. Those who need further encouragement should get it from not only my Department but across government." ENDS


The "Championing Women" conference provides an opportunity for women senior managers and others to consider the Gender Equality Strategy (2006-2016), and what they can do to progress the implementation of this strategy.

The strategy commits government to strive to ensure the mainstreaming of gender equality into all policy areas and all aspects of service delivery.

The outcome of the conference will consist of a report to Executive Ministers with suggestions for action in fostering equal opportunities between women and men in the North of Ireland.

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