[Sinn Fein]

24 April 1997

Women play key role in election

Sinn Fein Candidate for Lagan Valley Sue Ramsey today called for the stronger representation of women in the political life of the Six Counties.

Ms. Ramsey said:

``That women are totally underrepresented in political life in the Six Counties is obvious for all to see. One of the major challenges facing parties running in this election is not just to seek the support of women voters but to encourage women to join our parties and to run for election.

``In our manifesto being launched today Sinn Fein has outlined our strong commitment to equality for Women and have highlighted the areas of priority which our MP's will campaign on following their election.

``These include the need for increased representation and participation of women in politics both locally and nationally, comprehensive training programmes, adequate resources for the provision of childcare facilities; effective equal pay legislation to combat systematic discrimination in the workplace and adequate health services for women must be provided as a matter of urgency, particularly during pregnancy. These issues formed the basis of Sinn Fein's submission to the Fourth UN World Conference on Women which took place in Beijing in 1995.

``However we also stated that it is meaningless to call for greater representation for women on public bodies if women do not respect or give allegiance to the state or its institutions. It is pointless to demand equality in employment for women if men in their families and communities have been unemployed for three generations. ``It is hypocrisy to campaign against sexual harassment in the workplace, yet remain silent at harassment by the police and military in the streets. It is compounding abuse of women to criminalise ``domestic'' violence while legitimatizing the violation and destruction of women's homes by armed state forces.

``Equality of opportunity and equality of treatment will continue to be the cornerstone of Sinn Fein policy regardless of gender, religion, sexuality, race or class. Sinn Fein is committed to working with all those who seek to advance the position of women in Irish society and who are committed to ensuring the recognition of women's rights as human rights.''

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