NI women 'still waiting' for equality

Despite over 30 years of laws banning gender discrimination, solicitors in Northern Ireland will still encounter many cases where women have not been treated fairly, according to the University of Ulster (ULU).

In a joint study carried out by ULU and YouthAction Northern Ireland called 'Still Waiting: the stories behind the statistics of young women growing up in Northern Ireland', it was found that women aged between 16 and 25 were still subject to discrimination in many areas of life.

Interviews with a cross-section of young women revealed that females still found it difficult to get vocational training in areas not traditional to their gender, which led to many of them being trapped in low-status work roles, which do not pay as much as men's jobs.

Many women felt that even if they were afforded serious work, domestic duties were still assigned to them, which meant that progress in their careers would still be limited.

Even more worryingly, a quarter of the women interviewed had experienced either domestic violence or child abuse. Moreover, the majority of professionals who were made aware of the situation had allegedly not intervened in any effective way.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Patricia Lewsley, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, said: "The findings of this report are a stark reminder that despite the introduction of equality and sex discrimination legislation, Northern Ireland remains a highly unequal society where young women's life opportunities and experiences continue to be constrained by narrow and limiting gender stereotypes."

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