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Mary McAleese encourages women to 'take up mantle' and get involved in politics

Former president Mary McAleese has encouraged women to "take up the mantle" and get involved in politics but said political parties still have a lot more to do to promote females.

In a wide-ranging discussion with Irish Examiner columnist Alison O'Connor, Ms McAleese said women are often very harsh on other women, and ingrained stereotypes and perceptions have held many talented females back.

"I think sometimes mothers, aunts, neighbours, female neighbours can be hard on women and can have expectations for them that are much lower than their capabilities," she told an event to mark 100 years since women first got the right to vote in the 1918 election.

Speaking in Dublin this afternoon, Ms McAleese who said she has "absolutely no" regrets around speaking out in recent times, including against the Catholic church.

But she said the obstacles preventing women from progressing is "really deeply embedded".

She pointed to the views of the Catholic churches which were "culturally embedded" in society and this created an opinion that women were "objects of suspicion".

If you embed that view in people's thinking, there is no law of justice or no law of gender that says it's only embedded in the conscience of one gender of men, it's embedded in the conscience of all.