Women from all walks of life will descend the famous staircase at Stormont next month for a very alternative pageant.
Timed to coincide with International Women’s Day, a group of ladies will take part in the Alternative Ms Ulster event at Parliament Buildings, demanding equality of the sexes in Northern Ireland.
The event will be very different to the Miss Ulster pageant due to be held in Stormont last year, which was cancelled amid a furore over the entry conditions which required women to be between a dress size 8-12.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster compared that event to a Lovely Girls competition. Organiser Michelle McTernan said the entry conditions adhered to the overall Miss Universe regulations.
Next week the ‘Reclaim the Agenda’ group will step down the staircase to the strains of Stiff Little Fingers anthem Alternative Ulster, aiming to highlight the hurdles women face in public life.
The event on March 8, as part of a packed programme running from March 3-9, will be hosted by the Green Party’s Steven Agnew and his office manager Clare Bailey. Comedienne Nuala McKeever will compere on the day.
Clare Bailey said equality for women is paramount.
“A key principle of the Good Friday Agreement is equality for all people,” she said. “But when we look at the statistics, it is clear that the number of women in public life is not increasing. In fact in some areas it is decreasing.
“We have yet to see the childcare strategy, gender equality strategy and sexual orientation strategy, promised under the Programme for Government. This is not conducive for promoting equal opportunity to women in this new Northern Ireland.”