Some excellent ways to encourage more women to take their rightful place in politics and policy making were suggested at a recent focus group staged at WRDA. On 6th August, more than twenty women came along to the focus group, which was held to help inform how WRDA and the rest of the Women’s Regional Consortium will respond to the ongoing review into Women in Politics and the Northern Ireland Assembly. They began by looking at the problems facing women who do wish to go into politics, such as the adversarial, male-dominated nature of politics here and women now being expected to both work and be the main carers within their families. The women then discussed practical solutions to these issues, such as: • Ensuring childcare is available to women in politics and offering them more opportunities for flexi-working. • Making the job role for counsellors and MLAs clearer and more focused on outcomes, rather than attendance. • Developing training programmes at a variety of levels that will provide women who may be interested in politics with support, careers guidance, relevant skills and perhaps even opportunities to shadow politicians. • Introducing initiatives to NI that would set deadlines for increasing the number of women representatives. Political parties could also put in place policies to increase female candidates such as having a quota system. WRDA is now producing a report on the focus group, which will be passed to policy officers from the Women’s Regional Consortium. The review into women and politics will close shortly on 3rd September. However, you can still add your own views. Visit the Assembly website to discover how.