Sir, - I am as outraged as Paul Farrelly (December 19th)- not, however, by Senator Clinton's call for a meeting of female parliamentary representatives, but by his outrageous reference to the "verbosity of the viragos".
Is he serious? I have recently conducted research into the effects of the gender deficit upon the Northern Ireland Assembly, where women constitute only 13 per cent of our political representatives, despite forming 51 per cent of the population. The need to improve that participation rate is urgent. The achievement of gender parity in all areas of public life must be a concern for all who wish for an inclusive democracy. It is not only a matter of justice. There is a great deal of evidence to indicate that greater feminisation of political decision-making makes the process less adversarial.
As a member of the audience in the Grand Opera House privileged to hear the speeches of Hillary Clinton, Cherie Booth and our own women from the North, I can assure Mr Farrelly that there was no verbosity. All the speakers, celebrating the unsung achievements of women from around the globe who have contributed to peacemaking and the construction of societies based upon principles of justice and equality, displayed an impressive determination to continue that work. - Yours, etc.,
Dr Margaret Ward , Democratic Dialogue, University Street, Belfast 7.