Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Happy International Women's Day

Friday, 08 March 2019

Today is International Women’s Day, a global event to commemorate and celebrate the achievements of women across the world, and a chance to recommit ourselves to facing the challenges – social, economic and political – that women continue to struggle against.

The world that women face today is very different to the one that existed when the first Women’s Day was held in New York in 1909, and Tameside women have played an indispensable role in that process. The struggle for votes for women was won thanks to the efforts of suffragettes like Hannah Mitchell, who made her home five minutes away from Ashton Market Square for over a decade. A hundred years later, women with links to Tameside like Angela Rayner, Jenny Campbell and Brooke Vincent are still forcing their way into the history books in the fields of politics, businesses and acting respectively. Thanks to them and countless other women throughout the world, we’re in a better position to make our voices heard than perhaps any other time in history.

But that doesn’t mean that the fight is over. Women in Britain in 2019 may no longer face arrest and persecution for demanding the vote or other basic human rights, but no one can deny that systematic and unjustifiable inequalities remain. We’ve seen grassroots campaigns like #MeToo shine a spotlight on how the legal system and workplace protections have failed many victims of sexual harassment and abuse. Most insidious of all however, are the issues that may not look at first glance like they’re on the frontline of the fight for gender equality, but disproportionately affect women nevertheless. Perhaps the example where we’ve seen this at its most pervasive and destructive is the nine years of austerity we have all endured. Every piece of research or investigation that has looked at this agrees. Austerity has been a catastrophe for the vast majority of people in Britain, but for women especially. We need to start treating it as such.

I’m proud to be the first female Leader of Tameside Council. I’m committed to doing my bit to make sure our presence is felt around the corridors of power, within our local communities and everywhere in between. In the words of Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State in American history, “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent”. I began that campaign at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority this week, when I chaired ever meeting of the GM Women’s Voice Group. Alongside a host of inspirational women from across the city region, we discussed how we can accelerate the drive towards gender equality, looking closely at both areas where we can make small changes quickly, and where bigger solutions can be realised over the long term. Though the focus on change sometimes tends to be “smashing the glass ceiling,” helping women up into positions of responsibility or fame, I am firm in my belief that I want every single woman to benefit from our plans. Not every woman can or wants to be the next chief executive or council leader, but every woman can and deserves to feel like they will never be held back in Greater Manchester because of their gender. 

The message is clear. We’ve come so far, but there is so far left to go. This International Women’s Day let’s remember that the struggle for gender equality is a struggle which never truly ends. It falls to us to build on the work of those women that came before us, to create a better and fairer world for those women who come after us.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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