Northern Ireland Office
Secretary of State Theresa Villiers MP today visited Sullivan Upper School in Holywood where she met a number of sixth form girls studying politics to discuss opportunities for standing for election and pursuing a career in public office.
The audience consisted of forty pupils from a number of local schools including girls from other nearby schools. The Secretary of States visit was to coincide with this years International Womens Day. International Womens Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
International Womens Day (IWD) has been observed since in the early 1900s, and the theme for 2016 is Pledge for Parity, as progress towards gender parity has slowed in many places. In 2014, the World Economic Forum (WEF) predicted it would take until 2095 to achieve global gender parity. A year later, WEF estimated a slowdown in the already glacial pace of progress meant the gender gap would not close entirely until 2133.
This year, the organisers of IWD are asking supporters to take a concrete step to help achieve gender parity more quickly; whether to help girls achieve their ambitions, call for gender-balanced leadership, end workplace bias or develop a more inclusive culture.
Speaking to the students the Secretary of State said:
I am delighted to be here today, to celebrate International Womens Day and to have the opportunity to speak to some of our brightest and enthusiastic politics students and to share some of my experiences with them and encourage them to consider a worthwhile career in this field.
A prosperous and stable Northern Ireland needs students from all backgrounds and schools to enter politics and help to build on NIs successes and make a difference to the lives of local people in the future.
We need more women in politics. There are a number of successful Northern Ireland role models who have blazed a trail for these young women to follow and I hope they will seriously consider the opportunities on offer to get involved in politics and stand for election.