Northern Ireland

North in 'unacceptable limbo' over gender equality, MLA warns following global summit

SDLP MLA Sinéad McLaughlin pictured earlier this week at the US Institute of Peace in Washington DC.
SDLP MLA Sinéad McLaughlin pictured earlier this week at the US Institute of Peace in Washington DC.

An SDLP MLA has said the north is "in an unacceptable limbo" for gender equality after attending a global summit in the US.

Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin spoke after visiting Washington DC for an event hosted by the Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network.

The event, held at the US Institute of Peace, featured women parliamentarians, academics and others from around the world to discuss common challenges relating to gender equality.

Ms McLaughlin said she took part in a series of "high-level engagements on how gender equality can be used as a framework to advance peace" 

Ms McLaughlin, who chairs Stormont's All-Party Group on Women, Peace and Security, said: "It was a privilege to be invited to Washington DC this week to meet with women from around the world who are leading on gender equality in post-conflict societies.

"Although the nature of the conflicts we face are very different, it is clear that challenges including the economic exclusion of women as well as their marginalisation in public life, are common to almost all the countries who participate in the network."

Among topics discussed were shared challenges in implementing the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on gender equality.

The resolution addresses the impact of war on women and the importance of their "full and equal participation in conflict resolution".

“The delivery of this resolution within our context in Northern Ireland could make a huge difference in breaking down all the barriers that are still faced by too many women in our society," Ms McLaughlin said.

"Unfortunately, while the south of Ireland and Great Britain both have National Action Plans to implement it, Northern Ireland is still caught in an unacceptable limbo."

The MLA added: “I am not prepared to allow women in Northern Ireland to be left behind forever and will be holding any restored Executive accountable to a high-level, public commitment to implement this resolution. We deserve a government that is working to dismantle gender inequality in all its forms, whether encouraging the greater participation of women in public and political life, tackling gender-based violence or advancing access to healthcare.”