NI: Law Society president commends women’s ‘sacrifices’

Eileen Ewing
Eileen Ewing

The president of the Law Society of Northern Ireland has marked International Women’s Day by commending the sacrifices of women who paved the way for gender equality.

In a statement, Eileen Ewing reflected on her recent speech to newly-admitted solicitors.

Ms Ewing said: “When I see the number of females being admitted to the role of solicitors today it would be remiss of me not to recount that it is 100 years since the suffragette movement won the right for women to vote. 8.4 million Women gained the vote in 1918 and this represented significant progress for the feminist movement.

“However despite gaining the right to vote, gender inequality remained as many laws and societal attitudes meant that women faced barriers and prejudice in their work, education and marriage.

“The Sex Discrimination Removal Act 1919 changed the law on women being disqualified from certain professions on the grounds of their sex.

“It gave women access to the legal profession for the first time and meant they could also hold any civil or judicial office or post.

“The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 made it illegal to discriminate against women in work, education and training. How far we have come since then. Times have certainly changed since I was admitted to profession.

“The legal landscape and the solicitor profession you are poised to enter is a different professional environment to that which I knew.

“Much has been done to advance women in the legal profession including the appointment in October 2015 of two women Judges to the High Court and I pay tribute to the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Declan Morgan for his commitment to equality and encouragement he has given to female members of the Legal Profession.

“As we mark International Women’s Day we should remember the sacrifices which have been made before and reaffirm our commitment to equality of opportunity for all.”