Northern Ireland news

Women 'still under-represented in peace negotiations and reconciliation' 20 years after Good Friday agreement

Jane Morrice, Liz O'Donnell, Heather Humphreys and Bronagh Hinds. Picture by Declan Roughan

MORE than two decades after the Good Friday agreement women are "still under-represented in peace negotiations and reconciliation", civic empowerment activists have warned.

The warning came as more than 100 women from across Northern Ireland and the border counties gathered at the `Represent' Women's Ambassador Forum in Co Monaghan.

Among the speakers were EU election candidate Jane Morrice and former Department of Foreign Affairs minister Liz O'Donnell.

Organised by Irish Rural Link, Politics Plus and Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA), it is funded through the EU's PEACE IV Programme, Stormont's Executive Office and the Republic's Department of Rural and Community Development.

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys pledged the Irish government's support for women's involvement in peace building.

"One element of the peace process, and one that is of keen interest to peace-builders internationally, is the crucial role that women have played throughout successive years of negotiations.

"When women are meaningfully involved in peace negotiations, it is acknowledged that there is a far more significant chance of a longer-lasting and more inclusive peace. "

Joanne Jennings of Politics Plus urged women to "get involved".

"More than two decades after the Good Friday / Belfast Agreement we are still seeing an insufficient representation of women in peace negotiations and in engagement in community reconciliation.

"To create a lasting legacy we need to make sure that women’s voices are heard. Whatever your background or passion, from aspiring public representatives to environmental activists, from charity campaigners to community organisers, we want even more women to get involved."

With more than 300 participants in ten `Chapter Hubs' across Northern Ireland and the border counties, the programme provides a network and training for women to develop ideas, build communities and support the transition out of conflict.

More information at www.thenextchapter.eu

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