Anniversary of suffrage movement prompts push for more women councillors

Female county councillors

The anniversary of the first women to be granted the vote sparks discussions by West Sussex County Council members to increase the number of female councillors.

A motion was raised at the full council meeting (Friday 16 February) to explore the barriers for women councillors and to make recommendations to increase numbers.

To mark the occasion, councillors wore suffrage rosettes during the meeting.

In West Sussex, 22 of 70 councillors are women and it is one of the 96% of councils that does not have a maternity leave, parental leave or carers’ policy for councillors.

Louise Goldsmith said: “As both a woman and a politician I am acutely aware of the privileges I hold by virtue of when I was born and what I owe to those who have come before me.

“Over the years more women county councillors have come forward from all parties but at present we are still no way near 50 per cent representation or 35 women – in May 2017, 22 women were elected.

“That’s why I have been so insistent that a celebration of the suffrage movement must not be a look back but a push forward to make sure we make the powers women in history fought so hard for, continue to mean something today.”

The Representation of the People Act 1918 was legislation that enabled all men and some women over the age of 30 to vote for the first time.

To commemorate the anniversary, the Record Office and Local Studies Library Service are researching the role of West Sussex women in local government and society post 1918.

This will form the basis of the ‘West Sussex Women’ campaign which will last throughout 2018.

As part of this, residents are encouraged to share their stories of women in West Sussex who have made a difference in the last 100 years.

This can be done via our Facebook page @westsussexmatters or on Twitter @WSCCNews using the hashtag #westsussexwomen.


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