Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has praised the efforts of women in politics across Northern Ireland in keeping dialogue open between all parties.
Celebrating International Women's Day, Kellie - the newly elected Deputy Chair of the NI Assembly Women's Caucus - said that while today places a focus on women, it's the ongoing work of women at Stormont and the growing number of cross-party initiatives keeping the lines of communication open that must be recognised.
She said: "While bipartisan politics appears to have failed in Northern Ireland, women are steadily taking the lead in a collaborative working approach to ensure dialogue remains open and possible of devolution returning enabled.
"In less than eight week's time we'll see the next round of elections in Northern Ireland and the growing number of women from all backgrounds who recognise their voices can be heard is heartening. As we strive for balance for better we see it in action in all walks of life locally.
"I am delighted to be part of the proactive Women's Caucus, a group of women MLAs from all Parties. While we respectfully recognise political differences we all share the common goal of progressing society by adopting a gender lens through which to view reconciliation and peace-building.
"It is vital that we continue to improve the gender balance in politics, the workplace and in education. Having a stronger gender balance will result in both men and women having access to the same opportunities. But to achieve this we need to ensure women are built up to the level enjoyed by many men.
"And that's why I'm proud to potentially welcome the next generation of political leaders to Stormont today, welcoming young women from schools from different sectors, from across the country to discuss Education, Health & Wellbeing, Politics & Society and World of work.
"But it doesn't stop there and we must always identify ways to help other women break down the barriers that stand in the way of them reaching for their dreams. In line with this on Monday, March 11, I'll be hosting the British Council's launch of their report exploring the key developments which have been made in women's role in politics in the UK and around the world - read the #WomenPowerPolitics report here: http://ow.ly/ybgb30ma9Xe
"Together we'll ensure balance for better becomes a reality."