Jim Nicholson MEP and Sandra Overend MLA of the Ulster Unionist Party recently hosted an afternoon conference in Belfast titled, “Increasing the participation of women in society – are quotas the answer?” The event was compered by Lynda Bryans, and was addressed by the Deputy Chief Constable of the PSNI, Judith Gillespie, Professor Yvonne Galligan of Queens University, Head of the European Commission Office in Northern Ireland, Colette Fitzgerald and Director of Mash Direct, Tracy Hamilton.
Mr Nicholson commented, “I was delighted to host this event and I am thankful to each of the speakers for their very interesting contributions. We heard a wide range of opinions on the subject of quotas, and what made this event unique was that each of the speakers is involved in such diverse areas of society, ranging from politics, to education, to business to the police service. It was noted on the day that the Ulster Unionist Party is the first political party in Northern Ireland to address and discuss the issue of quotas in such a direct way, and I pleased to have facilitated this debate.”
Sandra Overend, Mid-Ulster MLA and founder of the Ulster Unionist Party’s Dame Dehra Parker Programme to encourage more women to become involved in political activism, commented, “I was delighted to be involved with the event, and that such a diverse range of high level speakers came along and participated. I know that the panel members welcomed the opportunity to contribute to a thought provoking debate, with a variety of experiences and views on quotas and the way forward for women’s involvement in society expressed.
“From speaking to many members of the audience, all were very much engaged by the speakers, as well as impressed that the Ulster Unionist Party had taken the initiative to host such an event. Personally speaking, I felt that it was a very positive debate, with various interesting points raised, and I hope that those attending continue to show an interest in political life.”