Why are there so few women in positions of power


Why are at that place so few adult females in places of power in Northern Ireland.

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Table of Contentss

Chapter One – Introduction

Chapter Two – Womans in Politicss

Chapter Three – Women in Northern Ireland

Chapter Four – Attitudes of the Northern Ireland public towards adult females in political relations

Chapter Five – Attitudes of political parties in Northern Ireland towards adult females and political relations

Chapter Six – Decision

Chapter One – Introduction

Few adult females have made an impact on political relations in Northern Ireland. The political civilization and traditions of Northern Ireland political relations are really much male-oriented and whilst adult females have worked difficult for alteration behind the scenes for many old ages, few have taken the measure into standing as campaigners in elections, less still successfully winning elections.

Following the Belfast Agreement, things may, easy, be get downing to alter. Mo Mowlam writes enthusiastically of the portion that adult females played in the negotiations taking up to the Agreement: “one of the most singular facets of the negotiations procedure was seeing adult females, non merely in the Women’s Coalition, but besides in other parties, sitting alongside their male co-workers and reasoning their points. They brought a new quality of argument to the proceeding” ( Galligan, Ward & A ; Wilford 1999 ) . However, despite the election of three adult females MPs in the first general election ( 2001 ) after the Belfast Agreement, adult females remain massively under-represented in political relations in Northern Ireland. This thesis examines the grounds for this.

Chapter two looks at the traditional function of adult females in political relations, both in Northern Ireland and in other parts of the universe. Election in the UK and policies towards adult females of other British parties are examined. The chapter besides looks at women’s motions abroad, in the likes of South Africa and Nicaragua and analyses how they have affected the political landscape in their ain states.

Chapter three takes a general overview of adult females in Northern Ireland, noticing on how they have reacted to the traditional position and values of the Church and the State in the state. The formation of the earlier Women’s motions is detailed here – although these groups have remained on the boundary lines on mainstream political relations, the fact that adult females have for decennaries joined together on peculiar issues is of import in the context of women’s engagement in political relations. The troubles face by adult females in what is a conservative, traditional and frequently sexist civilization is besides discussed.

Chapter four looks at the attitudes towards adult females in political relations held by electors in Northern Ireland and analyses whether the little figure of adult females involved is determined by supply or demand factors. Using informations from the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, this chapter argues that there is no deficiency of demand for adult females to be involved in political relations amongst the electorate, instead that a figure of factors around the disposition of adult females to come in into political relations and the traditional positions that still hold sway in Northern Ireland, are influential. This chapter besides makes usage of research undertaken in questioning a figure of adult females council members in Northern Ireland about their perceptual experiences on why many adult females avoid political life. Assorted ground for adult females to stay outside of representative political relations are given – once more he traditional civilization of Northern Ireland and perceptual experiences about a woman’s function are seen as of import,

Chapter five examines in inside informations the attitudes and policies of the chief political parties in Northern Ireland towards women’s issues and the function of adult females within the political parties themselves. Parties in Northern Ireland have traditionally focused chiefly on constitutional and security issues to the hurt of women’s issues. Party leading in parties across the political spectrum have been male dominated. This chapter looks at each of the chief parties, analyzing foremost how party constructions and leadings accommodate female members and secondly how party policy shapers address ( or neglect to turn to ) women’s issues. Chapter six provides a decision to the thesis.

The state of affairs in Northern Ireland where adult females have traditionally had troubles set uping themselves within the formal political procedure has been mirrored, if possibly non to such an extent, in other Western democracies. Evidence from UK elections indicates a historical bias against adult females campaigners, whilst elsewhere in Europe and across the universe, there are illustrations of adult females holding to pull together on their individuality as adult females to dispute their exclusion from political relations.

Analysis of general elections in Britain indicates that many fewer adult females than work forces are selected as prospective parliamentary campaigners and those that are normally chosen for less hopeful seats ( Leonard and Mortimore 2001, p97 ) . However, the figure of has campaigners has grown moderately steadily since 1996, with parties bit by bit accepting the demand to take stairss to increase the figure of adult females selected. The Conservative in peculiar have found this hard, mostly due to the reluctance of the party leading to interfere with the liberty and conservative nature of many of its local associations. The Labour Party has had more success. Its party conference took the determination in 1993 to seek to increase its figure of adult females MPs by presenting policies of positive favoritism. The debut of all-women short list and quotas proved controversial, with the procedure being deemed illegal by an industrial court in 1996, yet the thrust by Labour to increase women’s representation paid dividends – with the party’s triumph in the 1997 election, the figure of adult females in the house of Commons doubled to 120 ( Leonard and Mortimore 2001, p97 ) .

Elections for regional assemblies in Scotland and Wales have seen an addition in the figure of adult females winning seats. The systems of relative representation used in these elections has allowed Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the nationalist policies to guarantee that campaigners on lists were alternately male and female. As a consequence over 38 per cent of representatives at Holyrood and 40 per cent at Cardiff Bay have been adult females ( Leonard and Mortimore 2001, p98 ) .

Elsewhere, adult females have made direct intercessions within their political systems to guarantee that they are represented within the political procedure. In Spain, the Women’s Democratic Movement ( WDM ) began as an resistance group to the Franco government and went onto anteroom for women’s involvements during the country’s democratic passage. It successfully pressured the authorities into signing the Convention for Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women ( CEDAW ) . In Iceland the Icelandic Women’s Alliance ( IWA ) emerged in the 1980s as a group powerful to win 11.1 % of a national canvass ( Fearon 1999 appendix 1 ) . In Sweden, the issue of women’s engagement in political relations straight compelled adult females to fall in together on a cross-party footing in the preliminary to the 1994 elections. As a consequence, Sweden so elected what Faludi footings “the most female authorities in the universe – a parliament that was 41 % female with a cabinet that was 50 % female. ( Fearon 1999, appendix 1 ) .

More relevant to the issues around women’s political engagement in Northern Ireland are the illustrations of South Africa and Nicaragua, where adult females have acted together to dispute male-dominated political times when their states have been undergoing periods of passage. In Nicaragua, adult females achieved political additions during the radical period but, comprehending that these additions were non being to the full transferred to the new society after a transitional period, adult females joined together to organize the Nicaraguan National Coalition of Women ( NNCW ) in January 1996. Under this cross-party alliance adult females joined together to educate and themselves and prepared themselves to travel back and fight elections within their bing parties in October of that twelvemonth. The purpose was to advance the just engagement of adult females in the country’s political relations, something that was made hard, as adult females within the alliance had historically been political or even military enemies. There were surely some similarities with Northern Ireland and the group had to endeavor difficult to concentrate on integrity and making a consensus. The NNCW was able to hold a minimal docket underscoring women’s engagement in civil and political society.

In South Africa, adult females had become influenced by the experiences of women’s administrations around the universe and the ANC Women’s League ( ANCWL ) sparked a argument across the state about ‘the necessity of organizing as women’ ( Fearon 2001 appendix1 ) . In September 1991 30 women’s administrations came together in the Women’s National Coalition ( WNC ) to discourse the pulling up of a women’s charter on equality. The charter was finally produced after a immense participatory exercising that included an estimated 2 million adult females and was made up of 12 articles, one of which called for “mechanisms to enable women’s engagement in civic and political life” ( Fearon 2001 appendix 1 ) The charter was vitally of import to the development of adult females in political relations in South Africa as it challenged traditional perceptual experiences and values about the woman’s topographic point in political and civic life. Another success of the WNC was to buttonhole hard for a opinion passed in 1993 that required all dialogue deputations to reserve infinite for adult females.

Prior to the formation of the NIWC, the impact that persons or groups of adult females had made on Northern Ireland political relations had been comparatively minimum. There are nevertheless a few illustrations of adult females who, although non straight involved as representatives in the political procedure, made their presence known. In the 1970s, two Belfast adult females, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan won the Nobel Peace Prize for taking a peace motion that aimed to stop the force by manner of ‘people power’ . Inspired to action following the decease of three kids in a auto pursuit affecting IRA work forces, the Peace People as the motion was known called on the people of Northern Ireland to reject terrorist act and rapidly snowballed into a motion that could pull 10s of 1000s of people onto the streets in out-of-door mass meetings. The motion finally failed due to internal divisions within the motion, personality clangs and differences on how to pass the Nobel Prize money. Whilst still lasting today, the Peace People is now a small-scale motion that failed to present on the hopes that it one time raised.

Helen McKendry was a courageous Belfast adult female who campaigned to raise the issue of the alleged ‘disappeared’ victims of the IRA, who had included her ain female parent Jean McConville, taken from the household place in 1972 and ne’er heard of once more ( Independent, March 2, 2005 ) . Following the IRA ceasefire in 1994, McKendry launched a run to hold her mother’s organic structure returned and finally pressured the IRA into giving inside informations about the location of her mother’s organic structure and those of other victims.

May Blood was a adult female that played a outstanding function in the stalwart community for many old ages, prior to involvement in the NIWC. She was a determined community militant in the Shankhill Road territory, concentrating on issues such as lodging, public assistance, occupations, preparation, employment and labour dealingss. Speaking after she had been made a cross-bench equal in 2000, Baroness Blood stated: “My life is about functioning this community, peculiarly immature people. For old ages they have merely been fodder for the paramilitaries. We want the following coevals to be existent people with existent futures.” ( Independent, March 2, 2005 ) . It is deserving observing that like May Blood, the tendency in Northern Ireland has by and large been for adult females militants to concentrate on community development instead than electoral political relations.

The state of affairs of adult females in Northern Ireland is non wholly alone. Whilst the peculiar fortunes of Northern Ireland affect political relations at all degrees, the fact remains that adult females in Northern Ireland portion common experiences with adult females elsewhere in footings of the troubles that they have doing an impact in the political sphere. Rightly or wrongly, representative political relations around the universe remains mostly dominated by males, and in this respect adult females in Northern Ireland face the same challenges as adult females elsewhere.

Chapter Three – Women in Northern Ireland

Analysis of the women’s motion in Northern Ireland or triers to incorporate adult females more to the full into the political procedure must understand some of the cultural traditions and influences that affect women’s lives. As Monica McWilliams provinces: “the function which both the Church and State play shapes non merely the more traditional thought behind some of the major establishments, such as the instruction system or the bench, but it besides responsible for the highly conservative political orientation for which the Province has become infamous” ( Hughes 1991, p91 ) . The attitude of the Church has surely been that the primary function of adult females is that of female parents and homemakers and this has been something that has held adult females back from come ining into political relations. Issues around gender, the disintegration of matrimony or rights in the place or at work have seen women’s rightists face resistance from clergy, politicians and as a consequence, their communities. Again McWilliams summarises the state of affairs stating, “in the face of such traditional Catholicism and Protestant fundamentalism, it has proved highly hard for adult females to organize around issues which are of personal and political influence to them ( Hughes 1991, p81 ) .

Both the Protestant and Catholic Church have maintained a traditional line on the domestic function of adult females. They have exhorted female parents to take duty for their kids by looking after them at place and have mostly opposed political enterprises such as the proviso of twenty-four hours attention for kids as it poses a challenge to the traditional political orientation which supports the unintegrated division of labor in the place. The position of the Church from half a century ago has remained prevalent in modern twenty-four hours Northern Ireland. Bishop McGean had stated in 1945 that “the proper topographic point for the babe is in the place and the proper defender is the female parent. Nature decided that and God approved of that determination of nature” ( Hughes 1991, p89 ) .

Women’s groups in Northern Ireland have made gradual advancement in inciting political and societal alteration. They have begun to make constructions that enable single adult females to hold some step of control over their lives. One illustration is found in the work of an umbrella administration known as ‘The Women’s Information Day’ , along with undertakings such as Women’s Aid, the Women’s Education Project and the Northern Ireland Women’s Rights Movement. All of these groups, formed prior to the constitution of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition, were organised in a non-sectarian manner, keeping meetings in both stalwart and nationalist countries and raising controversial issues that were sensitive to one another’s beliefs. In 1985, whilst runing on alterations to the benefit system, a group of Catholic and Protestant adult females travelled to London to buttonhole their MPs to oppose a propose Social Security Bill and were appalled to happen that their ain political representatives were more interested in opposing the Anglo-Irish understanding ( which had been launched on the same twenty-four hours ) and refused to run into them on the evidences that they were excessively busy. McWilliams writes that “they returned place to Belfast on the same dark more positive than of all time that their political representatives were much less interested in affairs of societal and economic concerns” ( Hughes 1991, p92 ) .

One of the most blazing characteristics of life for adult females in Northern Ireland has been the adversity of poorness with all its societal, fiscal and psychological reverberations. Womans in Northern Ireland have come at the top of research tabular arraies naming infant mortality rates, unemployment or dependence on societal security ( Hughes 1991, p92 ) . It is adult females who have experienced poorness as prisoner’s married womans, as widows, as individual parents, divorced, separated or single, as directors of unemployed households, as individual and aged adult females populating entirely, or as low paid pay earners. As a consequence, women’s groups such as the Northern Ireland Women’s Rights Movement began to offer advice and information to adult females, bring forthing cusp to assist adult females in the face of overmastering bureaucratism. McWilliams writes of the force per unit areas upon adult females in Northern Ireland saying “existing from twenty-four hours to twenty-four hours in the North can frequently go an unbearable strain for adult females. Not merely must they supply a sensible criterion of life for their childs, but they have the extra anxiousness of worrying about hubbies and kids when they are out of the place. The old ages of ‘the troubles’ have added to their force per unit areas and many respond Ys utilizing tranquilizers or smoking excessively” ( Hughes 1991, p93 ) .

Womans in Northern Ireland have played a prima function in anti-poverty runs, a important political function which tends to be overlooked by media, church leaders and politicians. Such groups have remained non-hierarchical and have refused to allow individual persons become entirely identified with their runs. The non-hierarchical construction has provided the supportive type of environment that adult females require and each group has become knowing about the peculiar issue under examination. Often the adult females have maintained links after single runs have been dissolved. Northern Ireland women’s rightists have played a portion in assorted runs and community undertakings over the last few decennaries. Many cut their political dentition in the civil rights motions of the sixtiess and 1970s and had their first traffics with other feminist motions. Female pupils at Queens University held a public meeting in1975 which formed an action group ‘with the purpose of conveying the function of adult females in Northern Ireland into line with that of their sisters in Britain’ ( Hughes 1991, p93 ) and went on to organize the Northern Ireland Women’s Rights Movement which successfully campaigned to convey the Sex Discrimination Act to Northern Ireland.

There are of class issues that divide women’s groups in Northern Ireland. Many are related to the national inquiry, which as in all countries of political relations in the state, remain hard to get the better of. Whether groups are based on individual issues such as Women’s Aid or the Rape and Incest Line, or more generic groups such as the Derry, Belfast or Falls Road Women’s Centres, the political associations of members may be sneakily agued in order to clear up the line that they might take on the national inquiry. The sheer weight of issues around the fundamental law and security in Northern Ireland do it near on impossible for the issue to be ignored. Disputes have occurred between, for illustration, the Relative’s Action Committee and Women Against Imperialism ( which mostly supports Sinn Fein ) and other women’s groups such as the Belfast Women’s Collective and the Northern Ireland Women’s Rights Movement. The Belfast Women’s Collective argued that it was critical to work in every bit broad a scope as possible, including countries which may non ab initio run into with a large response because they challenge traditional political and spiritual beliefs ( Hughes 1991, p95 ) . The Relative’s Action Committee, on the other manus, organizing around the backdown of political statues for the H Block captives took the position that the run about prisons should be cardinal.

Regardless of divisions within women’s motions in Northern Ireland, the fact remains that the there is a degree of subjugation caused by the alone nature of political relations in the state. Many adult females are psychologically scarred by the deceases of or hurt to loved 1s. Many others are emotionally burnt out by the old ages of armed military personnels present on the streets. Womans on both sides of the sectarian divide have seen the devastation of household life when household members are arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and perchance held for long periods without test. Women sing hubbies and boy in prison have been subjected to degrading and mortifying strip hunts. They live in fright for the lives of their kids and have had the changeless concern that they will be caught in crossfire, caught up in a public violence or killed by an detonation. On top of all of these factors, adult females have besides had to undertake go oning economic development and sexual subjugation.

Womans in Northern Ireland have had to digest an deep-rooted civilization of conservative sexism that emanates both from the UK and the Republic of Ireland. They have had to contend for equality of chance in the workplace – interestingly, the Equal Opportunities Commission, which is known to play a more active function in women’s lives than its GB opposite number, was about abolished in Northern Ireland ( Hughes 1991, p96 ) .

Chapter 3 – Attitudes Towards Women

An influential factor in the under representation of adult females in Northern Ireland political relations has been the traditional premise of gender functions and values held by many within the state. These powerful political and cultural restraints back up the theory that the deficiency of adult females in political relations is due to provide instead than demand factors – the electorate has small job with female campaigners, it is acquiring adult females into place as campaigners for public office that is mostly the job.

There is general support amongst the Northern Ireland populace for adult females to be involved in political relations and so this support has grown steadily throughout the 1990s and the development of the Belfast Agreement. One of the cardinal inquiries included in the 2002 Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey was did respondents believe that the greater figure of adult females in political relations since the formation of the Northern Ireland Assembly make things better or worse in Northern Ireland political relations? Whilst 44 per cent of respondents remained impersonal on the inquiry, 41 per cent thought it had made things better, with merely 14 per cent believing it had made things worse ( NI Life and Times Survey 2002 ) . Attitudes towards the function of adult females in political relations shifted markedly from the study completed a decennary earlier. In 1991, merely one fifth of work forces felt that at least one half of senior authorities stations should be held by adult females. By 2002 this figure had doubled to 40 per cent, with support from adult females lifting from 38 per cent to 50 per cent ( Life and Times Survey 2002 ) .

Research carried out in 1993 sought to utilize the experience of adult females council members within Northern Ireland to try to estimate precisely why so few adult females were involved in political relations at the clip. In 1989, merely 60 of the 566 territory council members were adult females, comparing to a mere 10.6 per cent ( Wilford et al 1993, p341 ) . Following alterations after direct regulation was introduced in 1972, many maps of local authorities had been replaced by intermediate organic structures appointed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. This state of affairs reduced the grades of local authorities with Wilford et al noticing “Thus, draw a bead oning politicians enjoy an highly limited chance to run for elective office” ( Wilford et al 1993, p343 ) . In add-on, council meetings throughout the 1980s would frequently be used by political parties to reason out their constitutional differences instead than concentrating on the relevant issues of local political relations – the symbolic value of political relations in Northern Ireland helps to explicate the dearth of adult females.

Interviews with adult females council members revealed six chief grounds that they believed explained the little figure of adult females in Northern Ireland political relations – psychological, familial, organizational, functional, patriarchal and systematic. All have some relevancy.

Psychological grounds included a simple deficiency of self-esteem felt by adult females. The huge bulk of adult females council members had been prompted or asked to stand for election by other members instead than hold the assurance to stand on their ain enterprise. It seems exceeding for adult females to hold themselves eligible for campaigning, yet this is set against a background where with comparatively few people willing to stand for election in local political relations and being successful would be apparently elementary. One SDLP council member commented on the issue: “it ne’er occurred to me to stand…we ( adult females ) had the traditional position that we were the dorsum up for work forces: doing the tea and the like” ( Wilford et al 1993 p344 ) .

Familial grounds were most cited ground for non-participation of adult females in political relations and reaffirm the thoughts of traditional cultural values lending to the function of adult females in Northern Ireland. There is a clear derived function in the false duty of work forces and adult females for kid raising in Northern Ireland and this impacts strongly on the chance for adult females to come in into public life. At the really least, a strong and supportive spouse is needed by adult females looking to travel into political relations, yet in add-on to this it would look that many adult females in Northern Ireland do non merely set household duties foremost because that is their false function – many believe that they reallyshouldset their household foremost and prorogue any political aspirations until their kids have reached post-school age. It should besides be noted that child care installations in Northern Ireland were hapless during the 1980s and 1990s, a farther complication for adult females that wanted to come in into political relations.

Organizational grounds for adult females council members are similar grounds normally cited by adult females MPs in the UK Parliament – the unsocial hours that politician are required to work. Council members in Northern Ireland found that child care made it hard for them to go to council concern scheduled during the twenty-four hours. At the clip of the study, Sinn Fein was the lone political party in Northern Ireland that paid the child care disbursals of its council members ( wilford et al 1993, p344 ) .

Patriarchal grounds for the limited engagement of adult females in local political relations in Northern Ireland are based around the attitude of male council members towards their female opposite numbers. One council member interviewed stated: You’re a irritant as a female council member. Men don’t want you there ; they’d prefer it to be all male. They want to be the dominant 1s in the council ; it’s true everywhere” ( Wilford et al p344 ) . Mnay of the adult females council members interviewed felt that they were non taken earnestly because of their sex and this was a immense deterrence to go oning to take an active function in political relations. Many referred to the cultural belief ingrained in Northern Ireland about a woman’s topographic point and that the sphere of political relations was really much a mans universe. There is grounds that adult females were ‘ghettoised’ into certain commissions that were less of import and more focussed on what were deemed to be women’s issues – place safety commissions serve as an illustration. Again, the partiality of political relations in Northern Ireland has to be seen as a factor here – some of the issues likely to be raised by adult females in peculiar, like pre-school topographic points, instruction and the NHS, have a inclination to take a back place to constitutional and security issues. Finally, under the label of patriarchal concerns were echt concerns of sexual torment within the sphere of council political relations. Some female council members reported arch linguistic communication every bit good as out and out torment.

Systematic and functional grounds for non-participation are besides given. The deficiency of power held by local authorities in Northern Ireland prior to the Belfast Agreement has been a disincentive – adult females are deterred from giving household life merely due to the fact that there is comparatively small to make in local political relations and small chance to incite effectual alteration. For the more ambitious adult females, local authorities is non seen as a measure on the manner to better things and many adult females see the lists of work forces waiting to go MPs and merely presume that they have small opportunity of of all time making so. A concluding systematic ground for adult females remaining out of political relations is the existent physical hazard involved. It is non unheard of for Northern Ireland council members to be targeted or even murdered by paramilitaries.

Much of the research carried out with female council members supports the theory that it is so supply instead than demand that limits the figure of adult females involved in political relations in Northern Ireland. With merely three adult females MPs being elected between 1972 and 1990 ( Wilford et al 1993, p345 ) there is clearly a job in pulling campaigners.

In looking at the demand for adult females in political relations, whilst there is grounds that the populace has a turning desire to see adult females involved in political relations, it is besides of import to analyze the grounds that people in Northern Ireland think that there are comparatively few adult females involved. The 2002 Life and Times Survey asked for accounts as to why there are so few adult females in political relations:

Table 1: Explanations of why there are so few adult females in political relations ( % holding )

Work forceWomans


In general there is favoritism 54484955

against adult females in public life

Womans don’t come forward78708072

to be considered as campaigners

A adult female campaigner will lose votes33323734

Political parties don’t give women51466252

chances to come in political relations

Women put households before career69716571

in political relations

Womans don’t have the confidence26233325

for political relations

Womans don’t have the right25252521

experience for political relations

Women aren’t interested in politics26232518

( Beginning: Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey 2002 )

What is noticeable from this research is that the chief factors appear to be based on a witting pick made by adult females instead than favoritism against them. Women non seting themselves frontward as campaigners and seting their households before their political aspiration look to be more decisive factors than a position that adult females do non hold the involvement in or capableness to win in political relations. Surely this attitude has hardened during he 1990s. Whilst in the 1991 study adult females saw the ground for a deficiency of adult females as a mixture of barriers and disposition, by 2002 the most of import grounds are clearly women’s ain dispositions and picks. Another of import perceptual experience is that around whether or non people assume that adult females campaigners lose ballots – in both the 1991 and 2002 studies, merely around one tierce of respondents thought that this was the instance.

One of the obvious solutions to the fact that there are proportionally few adult females involved inpolitics in Northern Ireland would be the debut of positive favoritism policies by the major parties. Howver, whilst at that place appears to be a position that adult females involve themselves in the political procedure and be encouraged to make so, there is small grounds that parties should really be required to blance their campaigner lists with similar Numberss of work forces and adult females. When questioned as to whether political parties should be required to set forward a proportion of adult females campaigners, merely 19 per cent of respondents agreed – 17 per cent of work forces and 21 per cent of adult females ( Life and Times Survey 2002 ) . The more common position was that political parties should beencouragedto set forward a proportion of adult females campaigners – 55 per cent agreed with this ( 52 per cent of work forces and 57 per cent of adult females ) . The study besides asked whether the parties should set more resources towards the run of adult females campaigners than work forces campaigners: this met with a somewhat more positive response with 33 per cent of work forces and 45 per cent of adult females holding that more resources should be assigned to adult females campaigners.

A farther index that there is sufficient demand for adult females politicians came from the inquiries inquiring respondents to take four properties they would most wish to see in Northern Ireland politicians and the properties that they would so utilize to depict both male and female politicians. Table two inside informations the consequences:

Table 2 Properties of politicians

Male PoliticianFemale PoliticiaNDesired Properties

Honest 37 % Accessible 37 % Honest69 %

Ruthless27 % Able to compromise 36 % Able to compromise 51 %

Ambitious25 % Honest31 % Hard Working 15 %

Crafty22 % Level headed275Approachable 45 %

( Source NI Life and Times Survey 2002 )

Clearly, the Northern Ireland see adult females campaigners as most likely to hold the properties that they see as desirable. Whilst male politicians are seen mostly as aggressive, pitiless and cunning, female politicians are seen as more likely to be honest, accessible and willing to compromise.

Attitudes in Northern Ireland towards adult females politician are by and large favorable. These attitudes have perceptibly become more positive since 1991 and electors are now looking to parties to show them with more adult females campaigners both in the Northern Ireland Assembly and at Westminster. Whilst barriers to adult females come ining political relations remain, they appear to hold been diluted over the last 10-15 old ages and whilst there is still some favoritism against adult females in political relations this has lessened. Possibly most significantly of all in footings of attitudes towards adult females in political relations, there appears to be a consensus that the qualities that adult females bring to political life are closer to the qualities identified in an ‘ideal’ campaigner or representative than are of those of work forces in political relations.

Other research on specific inquiries about the function of adult females in political relations gives a good penetration into the attitudes of the Northern Ireland electorate. Surveies On line asked respondents what proportion of senior authorities stations should be held by adult females. The consequences were as follows:

Male Female

% %

A majority23

About half1835

At least some 4738

No definite proportion 3121

None 22

This would propose that the electorate is by and large happy to see adult females keeping some of the most of import stations in authorities. Again, this would propose that there is no job in footings of demand for adult females to be involved in political relations in Northern Ireland. Opinions of the general engagement of adult females on political relations give a similar image. Asked about adult females being elected to a national assembly, respondents felt that there should be:

Male % Female %

More adult females elected5062

Fewer adult females elected44

About the same as now4635

Finally, asked if in general things would better if there were more adult females in political relations, responses showed.


Strongly agree612


Neither 2836


Strongly disagree53

Again the wide consensus appears to be in favor of adult females being involved in political relations. Research indicates a little instability in that adult females appear to be more strongly in favor of a greater political function, but work forces besides are loosely in favor of women’s engagement

The attitudes towards adult females in political relations in Northern Ireland strongly back up the theory that it is supply instead than demand that restricts the function of adult females in political relations across the state. Certainly electors are on the whole non prejudiced against adult females campaigners, and whilst traditional values may be upheld by a proportion of the population, there is small to propose that electors in Northern Ireland would intentionally turn their dorsums on female campaigners. It would look that the demand for adult females politician is there – the trouble is get the better ofing traditional values held by adult females themselves to supply the supply.

Chapter Five – The Political Parties

Party political relations in Northern Ireland and the manner in which adult females relate to the parties have to be seen in a different visible radiation to party political relations in the remainder of the United Kingdom. The sway that patriotism and loyalism have over party political relations in Northern Ireland necessarily pass on other issues to a place of secondary importance. The close relationship between party political relations and paramilitarism that has existed for so long has been advantageous to work forces whilst detrimental to adult females. Feminism has mostly taken a backseat to the constitutional ends of political parties, with Wilford and Galligan proposing that “feminists in peculiar, have discovered that their dockets have been, and are, tolerated merely to the extent that they acknowledge the primacy of reciprocally sole constitutional goals” ( Galligan et al 1999, p170 ) .

Some of the figures on party rank pigment a more positive image on women’s political engagement than do statistics on adult females looking as campaigners or representatives. Whilst merely 1.6 per cent adult females and 2.1 per cent of work forces in 1996 belonged to a political party, some parties reported high proportions of adult females as members. The Democratic Trade unionists ( DUP ) and the Alliance Party ( APNI ) reported that 60 per cent and 50 per cent of their members severally were adult females, whilst the Ulster Unionist Party ( UUP ) with 42 per cent, The Social Democratic and Labour Party ( SDLP ) with 47 per cent and Sinn Fein 47 per cent ( Galligan et al 1999, p170 )

besides showed healthy rank figures amongst adult females. It is nevertheless the functions that adult female play within their parties that is the issue. Merely the ANLI and the SDLP have been chaired by adult females and a adult female has led none of the major parties.

The troubles faced by adult females in exercising influence within their parties are reflected by the feelings of disregard felt by some female party members. One female Ulster Unionist council member noticing on her party’s committedness to the concerns of adult females provinces, “policies on adult females are virtually non-existent. Of all the parties they are manner down the list. Lip service merely is paid to what adult females do, it’s reasonably good a male preserve, it’s an acclivitous battle” whilst a Sinn Fein council member echoed the sentiments saying “the issues that affect adult females are buried. A batch aren’t dealt with because work forces think they are women’s problems” ( Galligan et al 1999, p173 ) . A more elaborate expression at the policies of single parties helps to explicate the place of adult females in political relations across Northern Ireland as a whole.

The UUP has its ain women’s council ( the UWUC ) that was established in 1911 and provides 155 members for the party’s plenary organic structure, the 852-member Ulster Unionist Council. This equates to 18 per cent of the plenary organic structure. The party’s most of import policy doing organic structure has been its executive commission, with 120 members elected by the 18 parliamentary constituency associations – in 1995 this included merely 18 adult females ( 15 per cent ) . More late it has established a Women’s Affairs Committee, which consists of eight members – notably the commission remains opposed to any signifier of positive favoritism to increase the Numberss of adult females in either party or public office. The party’s 1997 general election pronunciamento made a clear committedness to deserve choice of campaigners as opposed to the debut of any positive favoritism policies. The party’s record on policies directed specifically towards adult females was patchy during the 1990s. Its Policy Statement on Women’s Issues for the 1992 general election for illustration was merely two pages long ( Galligan et al 1999, p174 ) . Manifesto pledges in relation to adult females have by and large centred on equal chances in the work force, whilst frequently mentioning to chances for adult females that will bind in with household duties. On a more positive note, the party has looked to follow policies that, whilst non helping adult females who wish to come in into political relations, allow adult females to more easy use their endowments in the wider community. Family friendly patterns by employers are encouraged, along with the debut of flexible working forms and better proviso of baby’s room attention at the workplace. The party and in peculiar its Women’s Affairs Committee have besides taken stairss to turn to the concerns of older adult females – back uping betterments in the quality old life for older adult females through more accessible local services.

The UUP appears to be easy accepting a alteration in gender functions whilst still cleaving onto the belief that a woman’s natural topographic point is in the place. “The UUP blends facets of gender support with both gender acknowledgment and gender neutrality, even pull offing to infix a certain consciousness of the demand to retrace gender roles” is the decision of Wilford and Gilligan ( Gilligan et al 1999, p175 ) and so this summarises the slightly baffled place of the UUP – it realises that adult females are playing a more outstanding function in society, but as yet it is unwilling to let them entree to political influence.

The DUP tends to takes more conservative stance in relation to women’s issues than the UUP. It has remained opposed to any thoughts of positive favoritism and has had few adult females as portion of the party leading. Its pronunciamento in general election prior to the Belfast Agreement paid small attending to women’s issues – the 1992 pronunciamento contained a brief subdivision on adult females, whilst the 1997 version ignored them wholly and devoted itself to constitutional affairs. Policy committednesss have besides been instead obscure. The party supports state-subsidised creche installations in the workplace and flexible working agreements for working female parents, yet has constructed these proposals around the apparently loath proposition that adult females find themselves in the place of holding to travel to work instead than taking to make so. There are farther intimations of gender support in other countries of DUP policy. Sing adult females as either or victims or possible victims there are policies around increased support for shelters for beat-up married womans, contending erotica and increasing sentences for rapers. The party has called for the assignment of more adult females to the bench on the evidences that they “could conveying to their occupation an excess dimension of sensitiveness and understanding” ( Galligan et al 1999, p176 ) . The overall feeling of DUP policy on adult females is that it sees itself as a male dominated party with a responsibility to protect adult females. It has done comparatively small to actively advance women’s entry into political relations.

The Ulster Democratic Party ( UDP ) , the political wing of the paramilitary Ulster Defence Association has long had a party hierarchy dominated by males, yet in some of its policies shows more of an consciousness and willingness to turn to issues than other major parties in Northern Ireland. Like the DUP, it has supported the proviso of workplace baby’s rooms and the debut of flexible working forms for adult females, whether married or individual. It besides supports equal employment chances for individual female parents, equal wage for equal work and equal rights and benefits for both full clip and portion clip workers. The UDP has besides been supportive of increased preparation and educational chances for adult females whilst opposing decreases in societal security payments to individual female parents. It has besides supported the handiness of free comprehensive household planning installations and has supported facets of the 1967 Abortion Act. Surely amongst its stalwart challengers, the UDP stands out as the party most in melody with gender acknowledgment and moves off from gender pigeonholing in it policies. Its has yet to present discriminatory intervention for adult females in choice of campaigners for election, but its more open-minded policies suggest that it is a party in which adult females could finally boom.

The Progressive Unionist Party ( PUP ) on the other manus has included rhetoric in its recent pronunciamento naming for the inclusion of adult females in political relations. Its 1997 pronunciamento stated that “women have a function to play at all degrees of political activity” and encouraged adult females to set themselves frontward as party delegates, officers and election campaigners. Whether the party is truly serious about this nevertheless, remains in uncertainty. The same pronunciamento, whilst covering comprehensively with constitutional and security issues, included few inside informations on women’s issues and the male dominated leading suggests that its call for adult females to be involved may hold been decorative instead than a echt entreaty.

The Alliance Party has had more success incorporating adult females into the party hierarchy. Its organizational construction is based on 23 local associations – by the late ninetiess, six of them were chaired by adult females ( Galligan et al 1999, p176 ) . Whilst by no agencies an equal split, the Alliance Party has at least moved a proportion of adult females into influential party functions. Of the 23 associations, 10s had adult females as secretaries and a farther 10 as financial officers. Its pronunciamento hold given support to the representation of adult females. Whilst its 1997 pronunciamento included merely half a page on women’s issues it did commit to back up for equality of chance for adult females and so encouraging EU directives on societal and economic equality for adult females. The Alliance Party has besides acknowledged that women’s issues are ignored “because they are non represented in the topographic points where they can reason for them” ( Galligan et al 199, p177 ) , once more a place that supports the supply instead than demand theory in relation to adult females in political relations in Northern Ireland.

Nationalist parties Sinn Fein and the SDLP appear to how more of a committedness to guaranting that adult females play an active function with party constructions. Sinn Fein had from the early 1990s adopted gender based positive favoritism policies that guaranteed a 40 per cent quota of adult females on its national executive. The SDLP followed suit in 1995 following a gesture passed at its 1994 conference naming for a programme of affirmatory action to guarantee that half of the stations within the party were filled by adult females. The existent result within the SDLP was that 40 per cent of places on the national executive were to be held by adult females every bit good as two topographic points on its General Council which had duty for developing and supervising the execution of new policies ( Galligan et al 1999, p172 ) . Both parties have farther supported their positive favoritism policies with other enterprises. Both deliver preparation and development classs that are targeted at promoting adult females to do themselves available for both party and public office places. Such policies are rather extremist in the context of Northern Ireland, surely in comparing to the attitudes of the other chief parties. It should be noted, that even amongst the protagonists of Sin Fein and the SDLP, there is non widespread support for positive favoritism.As Wilford and Galligan conclude “Not merely do employment and publicity quotas for adult females find lone minority support within both the general population and amongst party identifiers but public sentiment in Northern Ireland besides regards sex favoritism as less of a job than that base on faith, disablement and age” ( Galligan et al 1999, p172 ) .

SDLP pronunciamento and party paperss have been loosely supportive of women’s rights. Its 1997 pronunciamento included a subdivision dedicated to “real equality and partnership” in relation to adult females and its has shown support for the execution of a minimal pay, the acceptance of the Social Charter, the proviso of universally available child care and positive favoritism tailored at advancing chance for adult females in the employment market. The party besides lent its support for a reappraisal of statute law on equal wage and favoritism and called for new statute law on sex offenses in add-on to back uping the execution of the strategic aims on women’s wellness agreed at the 1995 UN universe conference on adult females held in Beijing. A party papers entitled ‘Half the Future’ besides specifically addressed the issue of women’s representation, proposing that the engagement of adult females in political relations was good to the overall balance of party policy. Again back uping the thought of positive favoritism, the papers argues that the deficiency of engagement of adult females in public office led to “the skip of their precedences and universe position from the procedures of statute law and administration” ( Wilford et al 1999, p178 ) and proposed the creative activity of a curate for equality who would in peculiar encouragement pro-active gender-equality policies in the employment sector.

Sinn Fein has been the party that has spoken out most openly on women’s issues. Its 1997 pronunciamento included the statement “Women in Ireland suffer from systematic and institutionalized sexual discrimination” ( Gilligan et al 1999, p179 ) and stated its purpose to accomplish equality of citizenship for adult females. However, in what can be every bit interpreted as a irrigating down of its rhetoric, Sinn Fein has committed itself to positive favoritism as under the 1989 Fair Employment Act which sanctions the applications of ends and timetables, instead than existent quotas in relation to adult females seeking employment. Within the workplace Sinn Fein calls for equal wage for work of equal value and for reforms of the instruction system to battle sexism and gender stereotyping. In common with the SDLP it has called for the legal extension for the definition of colza and for the development of a more many-sided attack to eliminate violent offenses against adult females. Sinn Fein has besides supported statutory support for colza crisis Centres and improved preparation for legal and medical forces on the effects of colza. In footings of women’s wellness it has called for more resources to be made available for preventive medical specialty and for better proviso of wellness attention for pregnant adult females. Finally, Sinn Fein has sanctioned direct positive favoritism in relation to support for women’s administrations and women-only community based classs.

The Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition ( NIWC ) was formed in 1996 following the proclamation by the British and Irish authoritiess that multi-party negotiations were to get down on the hereafter of Northern Ireland. Organizers of the NIWC saw the potency for the negotiations as massively important but have written that “an active sense of being excluded from the hereafter was being felt by many Northern Irish women” ( Fearon 1999, p2 ) . Undoubtedly, many adult females felt that the dialogues would be about entirely male and feared for their future representation under whatever understanding was reached. As Fearon writes “Northern Ireland does non hold a good path record in electing women” ( Fearon 1999, p3 ) .

One major issue for the NIWC to get the better of was the fact that the women’s motion within Northern Ireland had remained divided along sectarian lines. There had been rare illustrations of integrity, for illustration both communities collaborating in 1985 to buttonhole against a Social Security Bill, but by and large division had been a factor that had limited the effectivity of women’s motions across Northern Ireland. Political engagement with one of the major parties had offered little for adult females in footings of come oning women’s issues. Fearon accurately summarises the state of affairs prior to the formation of the NIWC saying “moreover by 1996, a important figure of adult females in Northern Ireland had come to experience that to fall in one of the traditional patriot or unionist parties was to sell your soul” ( Fearon 1999, p12 ) .

The NIWC appealed to the electorate in Northern Ireland on the evidences that, by electing adult females, electors can travel off from sectarian based political relations and achieve the needed alterations to convey approximately political adjustment and construct a peaceable society. It moved off from the traditional fixed places of the fundamental law held by the established political parties and, buoyed by the support of the electorate for an addition in the numerical representation of adult females has campaigned on the platform that adult females can do a difference. Its pronunciamentos have included some adult females specific policies, yet the chief purpose of the alliance has been to increase the figure of adult females engage in political relations. Whether the NIWC can of all time set up itself as a echt political force remains to be seen. It has played a portion at so negociating tabular array during negotiations on the Belfast Agreement, yet whilst the electorate possibly disaffected with the established parties and lament to se more adult females in political relations, when elections come around it is still hard for Northern Ireland electors to travel off from trenched constitutional and security places. However, the NIWC has been a positive force in set uping adult females at the bosom of political relations in Northern Ireland.

It is hard to pull wide decisions as to the overall attitudes of the political parties in Northern Ireland on the inclusion of adult females, such is the broad range of places that they hold. There have been, and remain, several obstructions in the manner of equality of chance for adult females and the parties have used different attacks to undertake them. There has been a general consensus that there must be more equality of chance for adult females, but the parties have differed in how this should be done and no as of yet have adopted full indorsement of positive favoritism in both the domains of employment and political chance. The major unionist parties in peculiar still tend to concentrate more on the domestic and familial functions of adult females, with Wilford and Gilligan surmising that “there may, in consequence, be an ideological nexus here between their conservativism on the issue of the brotherhood and their attitudes towards women” ( Gilligan et al 1999, p181 ) . Slightly in contrast, the more societal democratic, even socialist positions of the likes of the SDLP and Sinn Fein create to chance for a greater chase of equality of chance for adult females. The general decision that can be made is that there is a derived function between what can be seen as the nominal right wing and left flying parties in Northern Ireland. The more traditional parties such as the UUP and DUP provide what Wilford and Gilligan term “clear grounds for the prolongation of traditional gender functions within their administrations and in footings of public policy. Each portions the experience of building or supporting a chiefly national individuality, which implies the subordination of women’s concerns to the overarching demands of determining perceptual experiences of “the nation” ( Gilligan at Al 1999, p182 ) . Sinn Fein and the SLP on the other manus appear more unfastened to the thought of quotas and positives favoritism to guarantee the inclusion of adult females in political relations in Northern Ireland. Groups such as the NIWC appear to supply a more positive platform for women’s engagement in political relations, yet its failure to back up constabularies of positive favoritism reflect the public position that whilst more adult females in political relations is desirable, the issue should non be forced. As Wilford and Galligan conclude on the issue of political parties and their attitudes towards adult females “its trouble is, of class, that the articulation of gender and communal inclusiveness in a deeply divided society is drowned out by the clamor of viing nationalisms” ( Galligan et al 1999 p182 ) .

Chapter Six – Conclusion

The Belfast Agreement was rather expressed in its call for the inclusion of all within the political procedure in Northern Ireland. It specified in its subdivision on rights, precautions and equality of chance that Northern Ireland should offer the right to equal chance in all societal and economic activity, irrespective of category, credo, disablement, gender or ethnicity. Election consequences since the Agreement was reached have shown at least some positive marks. Womans have been elected once more as MPs to stand for Northern Ireland constituencies and really bit by bit adult females are get downing to be include in the leading of the major parties. However, woken remain proportionately under-represented across Northern Ireland.

The grounds for this are diverse. Northern Ireland has clung on to traditional values as to the function of adult females both before and after the Belfast Agreement. The perceptual experience remains that the woman’s topographic point is in the place and this plays a big portion in the under-representation of adult females – the fact is that many adult females themselves continue to take this position and set any political aspirations as secondary to their familial function – the supply of adult females into political relations remains hampered by this factor.

The political parties besides play a big farewell maintained the under-representation of adult females. Whilst women’s groups are able to develop outstanding functions within their communities, party constructions remain male-dominated. Until affirmatory action policies in footings of choosing campaigners are adopted, adult females will stay in the minority in the political sphere.

Womans in democratic governments across the universe have been mostly under-represented. Women’s groups can be formed to run or anteroom on peculiar issues or so merely to foster their ain function, but as in Northern Ireland, existent cogent evidence of echt political influence can merely truly come through a much larger representation of adult females within legislative organic structures and within the hierarchy of political parties.

Womans have been systematically involved in political relations in Northern Ireland, but mostly in community-based undertakings or on the fringe of the existent decision-making procedures. Womans who have played an active function at the bosom of Northern Ireland’s political sphere are few and far between. The sectarian and paramilitary facet to political relations in Northern Ireland has evidently disadvantaged adult females. Council members interviewed speak of echt frights of political engagement alum with defeat at the futility of political relations in an sphere so dominated by longstanding constitutional and security issues. Surely, there is a alone facet to political relations in Northern Ireland that appears to do the possibility of adult females holding important influence even more hard than it is in other democracies.

The issue of supply and demand is frequently discussed in relation to the engagement of adult females in political relations in Northern Ireland. The traditional positions seen to be held my many of the population would at first glimpse appear to propose that there is small demand for adult females at the bosom of political relations and that this is a finding factor. The existent grounds suggests otherwise. Voters in Northern Ireland are really rather acute to see adult females involved in political relations. Voters both male and female have a general perceptual experience that adult females in political relations will be a positive force and will incite alteration for the better. Where electors draw the line nevertheless, is on the issue of positive favoritism. The people of Northern Ireland would wish to see more adult females involved in political relations, but do non back up affirmatory action as a manner to procure this.

As a consequence, the administration of the major political parties remains a major faltering block to a Northern Ireland in which adult females and work forces are numerically balanced. Some of the parties remain inherently exist – they may hold policies for adult females but these are mostly based around assisting adult females to continue what is seen as their traditional function – at place raising a household. Surely within the more conservative parties there is small in the manner of encouragement for adult females to set themselves frontward as campaigners either for election for public office or for influential functions within the party. Within what would be termed as the more progressive parties, there is a greater recognition of gender acknowledgment and the fact that women’s issues are of import, but still, the balance of power remains really much with work forces. The likes of Sinn Fein and the SDLP topographic point a greater influence on women’s issues and so their rhetoric indicate a desire to see more adult females involved in the higher echelons of political relations. Proof that the rhetoric can be translated into action nevertheless remains to be seen. These parties have taken stairss to increase the figure of adult females campaigners and adult females within the leading, but it would look that lone policies of positive favoritism will really set up an equal tongue along gender lines.

Northern Ireland, in malice of the advancement made through the Belfast Agreeme

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