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Higgins champions women in workplace

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has said that, despite advances, Irish women are still under-represented in key roles in politics and business.

He was among the speakers that addressed the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission & National Women's Council of Ireland National Conference yesterday.

"In Ireland, while we are seeing a welcome increase in high-profile female role models in leadership positions in the public sector, we must accept that women remain under-represented in most key decision-making roles," he said.

He said that politics, business and academia are areas that are attracting scrutiny but he also questioned the lack of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

"We should all be feminists," he told the crowd.

President Higgins also announced that he is one of ten world leaders who will champion the UN's HeForShe campaign. US President Obama is another leader who has accepted the UN invitation to show his support for the initiative which was launched by Hollywood actress Emma Watson (inset) last year.

The conference marked 20 years since the UN's Bejiing Platform for Action and saw speakers including justice minister Frances Fitzgerald examine the role of women in society.