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Latest News Archive 2007

December 2007
On the 27th December 2007, Benazir Bhutto was assasinated in Pakistan. Bhutto was not only a politician; she was also an outspoken advocate of women's issues, a founding member of the Council of Women World Leaders and of course the first ever female head of a Muslim country.

September 2007
On 28-29 September, CAWP hosted the RECON International Workshop entitled 'Justice, Gender and Democracy in the European Union'. CAWP is a partner in the 'Reconstituting Democracy in Europe' (RECON) project, which is funded by the EU. Within this project CAWP will coordinate work-package 4, 'Justice, Democracy & Gender'. For more information on the RECON project please follow this link.

We are pleased to have Agnès Hubert, from the Bureau of European Policy Advisors to EU President Barrossa, to give the opening address at the workshop. Her address is entitled 'The European Union and gender equality: from the Treaty of Rome to gender democracy'
. Her presentation can be viewed here. The workshop proved a huge success with participants from all over Europe. The programme for the workshop can be accessed here.

September 10-14, saw yet another highly successful run of our women's leadership programme, 'The Next Generation'. Attended by 18 women from local government in Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland as well as from other bodies such as the Health Service and Housing Executive, the excellent evaluations from this course demonstrated the quality of the content and teaching in the programme. Further information on the September 07 programme including photos, participant comments and the programme can be accessed here.
The next programme will run in January 2008. For more information on Next Generation including an application form please follow this link.


July 2007
Harriet Harman has taken up her position of Deputy Leader of the Labour Party following her victory over five other contenders. Unlike her predecessor John Prescott, she will not be Deputy Prime Minister, but Gordon Brown has appointed her Party Chair and Leader of the House of Commons. She also takes up the position of Minister for Women in the cabinet. However, her win is not a reflection of more women in the cabinet. PM Gordon Brown's first cabinet has 5 female members, a fall from 8 in Blair's last cabinet. The meteoric rise of some young male MPs was not matched by women. Only one woman joins the cabinet for the first time. For a full list of UK women Ministers including those who are members of the cabinet or who attend cabinet meetings, please see our UK Ministers page on the observatory.

Seven women have been included in the Conservative shadow cabinet, an increase of three. This includes Sayeeda Warsi becoming a life peer with the community cohesion brief, who is the first Muslim woman on the Conservative front bench - or indeed any party's front bench. Meanwhile the Liberal Democrat shadow cabinet has also been reshuffled with a net loss of one woman.

Each party has new women in charge of their women and equality portfolio:
Labour: Harriet Harman and Barbara Follett
Conservatives: Theresa May
Liberal Democrats: Jo Swinson


Congratulations to Pratibha Patil who is to become India's first female President. Mrs Patil won nearly two thirds of votes cast in state assemblies and India's parliament. India has previously had a female Prime Minister in Indira Gandhi, while the Congress Party has a female leader in Sonia Ghandhi, though she declined the post of Prime Minister.

May 2007

In only the second debate following the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly, members debated the lack of women in the Assembly and the under-representation of women in political life generally in Northern Ireland. One of the Assembly's new members, Sinn Fein's Jennifer McCann MLA, introduced the motion, with Michelle McIlveen MLA (DUP) proposing an amendment. For a summary of the debate please follow this link. The full debate can be found here.

In electoral news beyond Northern Ireland, the incoming Scottish Parliament has seven fewer female MSPs than the last one. Down from 39%,women now make up a third of the Parliament (43 out of 129). The Welsh Assembly has also seen a small drop in the number of women, albeit from a majority of 31 out of 60 to a still very respectable 28 out of 60 assembly members. In Finland, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen has appointed a new cabinet with women ministers in the majority. The cabinet is made up of 12 women and 8 men, with women holding key portfolios such as the interior, justice and health.
In France,
Ségolène Royal has missed out on the chance to be France's first female president. However, new president Nicolas Sarkozy has fulfilled a campaign promise to improve the government's gender balance by appointing women to 7 of the 15 cabinet posts.

CAWP would like to extend our congratulations to Dr Maire McLoone, a former participant in our Next Generation Leadership Programme, who has been named British Female Inventor of the Year.

A major report reviewing statistical evidence and recent research on gender equality in Scotland has just been published - 'A Gender Audit of Statistics: comparing the position of women and men in Scotland' by Esther Breitenbach and Fran Wasoff. The audit of gender statistics was commissioned by the Scottish Executive to provide a review of current gender differences and inequalities in Scotland relevant to key areas of economic and social life. As such, it is a key resource to assist public bodies in producing gender equality schemes. More information on this report, along with details of how to access the full report, the report summary, how to order a hard copy and author contact details can be found here.

'A Transient Transition: the cultural and institutional obstacles impeding the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition in its progression from informal to formal politics' by Cera Murtagh is the latest contribution in our Occasional Paper Series, and is now available to download. For more information on this and all other papers in our series, please click here.

March 2007

In Northern Ireland, the Assembly elections have returned 18 women, the same number of women MLAs elected in 2003. A special mention must be made of Anna Lo, who was elected in South Belfast. She is the first ethnic minority candidate to be elected to the Assembly and also made history by being the first ethnic Chinese person to be elected to any UK assembly or parliament. Full coverage and analysis of the elections results can be found here.

Meanwhile in Finland's recent election women fared much better with the proportion of women in parliament reaching an all-time high of 42%. 40% of candidates were women and the final results meant a 5% rise from the last election in 2003. Scandinavian countries have long been world leaders in women's representation; list proportional representation systems are in use across the region. Finland also has a woman president, Tarja Halonen, re-elected in 2006.

A new era in Spanish politics and society has been ushered in with a new sex equality bill, which will enforce quotas for women in companies and on electoral lists. In all the country's elections from now on political parties are obliged to present lists of candidates in which neither sex has a representation of less than 40 percent nor more than 60 percent.The gender equality bill also stipulates that by 2015, women should occupy 40 percent of the seats on the boards of the country's biggest corporations.

Congratulations to Sarah McCaffrey who succeeded in becoming the new Deputy President for the Students' Union!
Two Queen's Women and Politics students are seeking to practice politics as well as study it. For the upcoming student elections on the 14th and 15th March 2007, Claire Bullock, a final year law student is standing for President and Sarah McCaffrey, a final year politics student is standing for Deputy President. CAWP wishes them good luck in the elections. Click here to view Claire's manifesto and here for her personal manifesto. Click here to view Sarah's manifesto and here for her personal manifesto.


February 2007
With the elections for the Northern Ireland Assembly only weeks away, candidates have handed in their nomination papers. For more information on the gender breakdown of these nominations, by party and constituency, please click here for Dr Yvonne Galligan's summary.

Elsewhere women candidates are faring with mixed results. Hillary Clinton's campaign to become America's first woman president is off to a positive start. Last week a gallup poll for USA Today had her 19 points ahead of her nearest rival for the Democrat nomination. The same poll found that 60% of voters across the political spectrum said she would make a good president, challenging the belief that America is not ready to return a woman to the Whitehouse. Meanwhile in France Ségolène Royal's future as the next president looks uncertain. Despite a good start, Ms Royal has seen her support slip in recent weeks, with latest opinion polls putting her at a 10 point disadvantage to her rival Nicolas Sarkozy. However, she has tried to revamp her campaign by reshuffling her campaign team and appearing before a live prime-time TV audience to answer questions. The first round of voting begins on 22 April 2007.

CAWP's current Visiting Fellow, Dr Katherine Side will be giving a lecture on 'Women's Political and Civil Citizenship Rights in the Post Good Friday Agreement Period' on Thursday 8 February at 4pm in the Peter Frogatt Centre, room 309. A question and discussion session will follow the lecture. For more information on what Dr Side will be researching during her residence with CAWP, please follow this link >>>>

The Gender Research Forum guest lecture series continues on the 22nd February 2007 at 5.15pm with a lecture given by Professor Sasha Roseneil entitled, 'New Practices of Personal Life: Rethinking Individualisation and Intimacy in the early 21st Century'. The lecture will be held in room G.028 in the School of Sociology (QUB), 6 College Park, Belfast. A wine reception will follow. For more information on the Gender Research Forum and to be added to their mailing list, please follow this link >>>>

January 2007
Another highly successful Next Generation Leadership Programme took place at Queen's University between January 29th - February 2nd 2007. Launched in 2004, the programme's aim is to develop the leadership potential of future women decision-makers. By participating in seminars and workshops on a variety of topics such as, communication, conflict management, public speaking, management skills and work/life balance, our participants gain practical skills, essential in today's decision-making world. For more information or to apply for the Next Generation programme, please follow this link >>>> Please click here for our most recent photograph.

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