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Concrete action required to break cycle of gender inequality - Bairbre de Brún

9 March, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today welcomed a presentation in the European Parliament today of the findings of a study on EU enlargement and women's participation in politics.

Ms de Brún was speaking following an event which she sponsored in the European Parliament, as part of International Women's week. The Centre for Advancement of Women in Politics at Queens University, led the research whose findings were being presented today.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"It came as no surprise when the European Commission awarded the research grant in 2002 to the Centre for Advancement of Women in Politics for this multi-disciplinary study on the position of women, women's political participation and women's contribution to governance and decision-making in a number of European countries. The Centre for Advancement of Women in Politics at Queens University under its director, Yvonne Galligan has a strong history of quality research, on the question of gender equality in political representation. The Enlargement, Gender and Governance project (EGG) has demonstrated that this confidence was well placed.

"The ten country comparative study is unique in its focus on gender and enlargement in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

"While the experiences reported by civil servants, elected members, journalists and academics are specific to these East European countries, many of the findings have wider application such as an inadequate participation by women and women's groups in policy making and the way in which sexist attitudes still shape perceptions of women in political life.

"This study highlights that once a pattern of under representation has been established, the same pattern will keep repeating itself, unless concrete steps are taken to break the cycle. This is as true in Ireland as it is elsewhere in Europe.

"Gender inequality in the political sphere presents a serious challenge for European leaders and national governments. Whilst the principle of equality has been established throughout the EU, the practice has not yet lived up to this in any member state. It is up to all of us to change this situation." ENDS

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