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Review of Public Administration must deal with role of women in our society

2 September, 2005

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Women and Older People, Newry Armagh MLA Pat O'Rawe has said that the Review of Public Administration will be flawed unless it adequately deals with the role of women in our society. Speaking after an event at Queens University Institute of Governance organised by the women's sector to discuss the implications for women's representation in structures emerging from the RPA Ms O'Rawe said:

"This is a timely and necessary discussion. It needs to be replicated and widened out to involve more women and reinforced time and again with policy-makers and Direct-rule Ministers. We need to bring these issues centre-stage of the RPA consultation.

"There are still many constraints facing women‚s equal and meaningful representation and participation in decision-making. Our rights are still disregarded, sidelined, pigeonholed or patronised. Policy decisions are taken long before any engagement with women. Most consultations are nothing less than shambolic tick-box exercises with little effort applied in subjecting policies to the full rigours of equality assessment.

"This is an unacceptable. This approach cannot translate into whatever emerges from the Review of Public Administration. The bottom line is to secure a construct for public administration that is underpinned by a rights-based, equality approach where women‚s rights - including those of full and meaningful representation in all decision making - should be seen as an opportunity for advancement, not diminishment.

"Sinn Féin is insisting that the equality provisions of the RPA are matched to robust implementation processes in addition to the current section 75 responsibilities of public bodies. Women‚s representation needs to be placed firmly on the agenda along with the requirement for compulsory affirmative action integral to any structures emerging from the RPA.

"The representation of women on local government is consistently low despite attempts by political parties across the board to encourage women candidates. If we are serious about democratic equality for women then it must be an underpinning requirement. Representation without equal representation is neither desirable for a society emerging out of conflict nor acceptable from a democratic, rights-based approach to full representation." ENDS

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