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Women under represented in Assembly

14 March, 2007

Sinn Féin South Down MLA Caitríona Ruane speaking about the outcome of the recent Assembly elections has expressed disappointment that only 18 women Assembly members were elected on March 7th.

Ms Ruane said:

"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.

"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."

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún added:

"Inequality between men and women is as real as ever and must be tackled head-on by all in power."

Ms de Brún 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."

Emphasising that rhetoric is not enough 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." ENDS

Note to Editor:

The European Commission Roadmap for equality between women and men proposes six areas of action; achieving equal economic independence for women and men; enhancing reconciliation of work and family life; promoting equal participation of women and men in decision-making; eradicating gender-based violence and trafficking in human beings; eliminating gender stereotypes in society; and promoting gender equality outside the EU.

There were 8 women elected to serve as Sinn Féin Assembly members out of 9 candidates.

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