Arlene Foster says her election as DUP leader ‘broke a glass ceiling’

Arlene Foster has said her election as DUP leader “broke a glass ceiling” and has encouraged women to get involved in politics.

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 6:24 pm
Updated Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 6:43 pm

Arlene Foster has said her election as DUP leader “broke a glass ceiling” and has encouraged women to get involved in politics.

Ms Foster became the party’s first female leader in 2016, when she replaced Peter Robinson.

Ms Foster has spoken in the past about the sexist abuse she has suffered as part of her job.

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DUP leader and First Minister, Arlene Foster.

Hitting out at the “misogynistic criticisms” in public life, she urged women not to be discouraged by “online hate mobs”.

“My election as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party broke a glass ceiling and I am glad inspired other women to enter politics and spurred them on to take up elected office” she said in a statement.

“I understand the misogynistic criticisms that female public figures have to take and sadly it’s the same for all women in public life.

“I want to encourage you to keep going and don’t let the online lynch mobs get you down.”

Speaking about her own experience of online abuse in a recent interview with the BBC, Ms Foster said she faced “hourly trolling” about her appearance, clothing and haircut.

She said she found the abuse “really, really painful”, in particular when it impacted on her family.

She said she feared that young women are being driven away from politics because of the levels of online abuse.

She said young women with an interest in politics “see the abuse that leaders are taking at present, who are female politicians, it’s bound to have an impact on them wanting to get involved”.

She added: “What we need to see is social media companies taking more responsibility for the anonymity of these people so we can deal with these issues.

“We all know that social media allows people to be anonymous and therefore that works in favour of those who want to attack.”

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