HC Deb 03 April 1996 vol 275 c331W
Mrs. Helen Jackson

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what measures he proposes to increase the number of women employed in senior positions in public bodies in Northern Ireland. [23970]

Sir John Wheeler

The chief executives' forum, the association of chief executive officers of public bodies in Northern Ireland, is actively seeking to encourage women to further their careers within the public services. This month, under the auspices of the women's group of chief executives within the forum, a formal network is to be established for women who have attained senior management positions within the civil service and in public bodies throughout the Province: addressing the problems experienced by women in management in the public services a conference will consider what might be done to help, support and encourage women managers in their careers. This initiative has the full support of my right hon. and learned Friend and the Baroness Denton of Wakefield, the Northern Ireland Office Minister with responsibility for womens' issues, who will address the conference.

The initiative forms part of a programme of work in the area of gender and equality of opportunity being pursued by the chief executive's forum. In December 1994 the forum and the Equal Opportunities Commission for Northern Ireland published a joint research report and a number of recommendations. The findings of the report have been accepted by all the public bodies involved and endorsed by the Government. The recommendations of the report are currently being acted upon and, 15 months after publication of the report, further work has been commissioned to ascertain progress and to identify and encourage the spread of good practice.